Camouflage gets Steve Irwin through pirate alley
by Sea Shepherd/Sail-World Cruising on 9 May 2011
It wouldn't work for a sailing boat, but aggressive conservationist ship Steve Irwin has successfully used camouflage and a large '77' emblazoned on its hull to deter pirates while transiting the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden.
The Steve Irwin - imagine her camouflaged and a large ’77’ on her hull SW
What the pirates thought is anyone's guess, and they would certainly have been confused by the piracy symbol of the skull and crossbones on the flag.
Here is the account of the incident by the owner, the Sea Shepherd organisation:
The Steve Irwin successfully ran the gauntlet of Somali pirates today as the ship and crew transited the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea under the command of Captain Lockhart MacLean.
Their position was 12 degrees, 33 minutes North and 43 degrees and 31 minutes East at the time.
Yesterday a U.S. military Blackhawk helicopter overflew the Steve Irwin and hailed the vessel as a Dutch warship.
If the camouflage paint job and the large '77' emblazoned on the bow fooled the U.S. military, Sea Shepherd was hoping that the pirates would also be mistaken and would keep their distance.
Today three skiffs with six men in one, five in another and two in the third approached the Steve Irwin and tailed the vessel for a few miles. They appeared to be uncertain and backed off to check out a container ship a three miles distance from the Sea Shepherd ship.
Captain Lockhart MacLean notified the coalition naval authorities in the area and warned the Maersk container ship that the skiffs were approaching them.
To the pirates it must have looked like the Steve Irwin was a warship escorting the container ship. The skiffs backed off and both ships successfully entered the Red Sea.
The Steve Irwin is now heading to the Suez Canal.
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