Somalia: A Navy Without Boats

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A suspected Somali pirate's hands are bound after his capture on the high seas

We’ve reported frequently on the Somali piracy infesting the Indian Ocean. The good news is that the Somali navy wants to do something about it. The bad news, according to a fascinating but dispiriting account in Somalia Report, is that they lack many things, including boats:

The first battalion of Somalia’s nascent navy force began intensive training in June 2009 and was expected to be armed with rifles, rockets and small speedboats and then four months later start their work. Two years later what seems to be a theoretical training for the first battalion of the navy is going on. They do not have warships, equipment or money because the impoverished Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) has been accused of stealing the small money which comes from the airport and seaport rather than spending to build its army…

The navy base in Mogadishu’s northern district of Shangaani is a run-down building. The building is simultaneously a shelter for IDPs [internally displaced persons, aka refugees] and a base for men and women who were prepared to serve as the country’s first naval force in two decades to fight rampant piracy off the country’s coast. IDPs along with women, children and animals share the building, which has no doors, windows, water or electricity…These cadets, who might never go to sea, are meant to fight the criminal gangs of fishermen who have gone into piracy, earning nearly $35 million annually while the navy rarely pays their salaries of $60 a month.

Sounds like international shipping companies better not hold their breath.