The Year In Piracy: April 2008-09

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The April 8 attack on the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama took place in waters off the East African coast, about 380 miles east of the Somali capital of Mogadishu. It is the latest by the Somali pirates, who have been in the national spotlight on and off over the last year. In late January, French marines received a distress call from The African Ruby alerting them to the presence of pirates in the Gulf of Aden, near Yemen. The marines intercepted the pirates’ skiffs and arrested those on board (pictured here).

Newscom/Sipa

One of the suspected Somali pirates that was handed over by the French navy to Somali authorities is seen at the port of Bossaso, Somalia, on January 29.

Newscom/PTS

The MV Faina – pictured here off the coast of Somalia on September 29, 2008 – is a Belize-flagged cargo ship carrying Ukrainian T-72 tanks and related equipment. The ship was attacked on September 28.

U.S. Navy

In April 2008, Somali pirates hijacked a luxury yacht with a crew 30-men strong. The French military launched a daring helicopter raid to release the hostages and seized six of the pirates. Here, crew members of the Ponant yacht make their way to boarding the Jean Bart navy frigate on April 11, 2008.

ECPAD/Sergent Dupont Sebastien/Abaca Press

French marines arrest a Somali pirate. The French naval presence in the area is part of an EU operation named “Atlanta,” aimed at protecting merchant ships in the area from the mounting threat of pirates. According to the International Maritime Bureau, attacks increased by nearly 200% last year.

Newscom/Sipa

A U.S. Navy helicopter keeps watch on suspected pirates as the visit, board, search and seizure team prepares to apprehend them February 11, 2009, in the Gulf of Aden.

U.S. Navy/Jason R. Zalasky

French soldiers arresting presumed Somali pirates in the eastern part of the Gulf of Aden off the Somali coast. Eight pirates were apprehended while trying to hijack the Panamanian cargo vessel S. Venus.

Newscom/Sipa

A British journalist joins the HMS Northumberland in the Gulf of Aden on an anti-piracy operation. The frigate led an EU naval force hunting Somali pirates.

Newscom/Zuma

Suspected pirates surrender on February 11, 2009, in the Gulf of Aden.

U.S. Navy/Jason R. Zalasky

A sailor of the Ukrainian Faina ship captured by Somali pirates is welcomed home by relatives at the Kiev International Airport on February 13, 2009. Ukrainian sailors from a hijacked cargo ship arrived in Kiev after more than four months in the hands of Somali pirates.

Newscom/Zuma

Crewmembers from Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship Motor Vessel Polaris climb aboard guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf on February 11, 2009, in the Gulf of Aden, to identify suspected pirates.

U.S. Navy/Jason R. Zalasky

Seven suspected Somali pirates were handed over to the Kenyan authorities in the port city of Mombasa by the German navy on Wednesday, April 8, after being arrested on Sunday for attempting to hijack a German tanker.

Newscom/Sipa

U.S. Sailors aboard the USS Vella Gulf conduct bridge operations on February 11, 2009. Suspected pirates were apprehended by the ship’s visit, board, search and seizure team in the Gulf of Aden.

U.S. Navy/Jason R. Zalasky

Richard Phillips, Captain of the U.S.-flagged Maersk, was taken hostage by pirates on April 8. The missile destroyer USS Bainbridge, pictured, was patrolling in the region and headed to the lifeboat to attempt to extract him. As of early afternoon on April 9, Captain Phillips is still captive.

U.S. Navy/Paul Farley

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