Global Effort Clamps Down On Piracy

pirates, Gulf of Aden
pirates, Gulf of Aden (MacVicar piece)

Navy ships from every corner of the globe have converged on the Gulf of Aden to fight piracy - and protect some valuable cargo. Each day, $200 million worth of oil passes through the area. Pirates are currently holding 14 ships for ransom, but with about 50 warships now patrolling the area, the pirates' luck is beginning to change. CBS News correspondent Sheila MacVicar has an exclusive report from the Gulf of Aden.

On a superhighway of the high seas, Chinese warships escort a 15-ship convoy to safety. These waters are so strategically situated that for the first time, China has sent its warships to patrol far from home.

There are 60,000 square miles of water down in the Gulf of Aden, now patrolled by more than 50 warships. The latest to arrive? The Iranians.

Last week as the American-flagged Maersk Virginia was pursued by pirates, there was an unusual example of Iranian-American co-operation. The Iranian warship offered to help, but pirates were warned off by an Italian naval helicopter.

Japanese, American, French - this is an enormous international effort aimed at thwarting piracy.

"While we may have different agendas outside of what is going on here, all the ships are actually able to work together," said Cmdr.Craig Baines, of the HMCS Winnipeg.

As the number of warships has grown, the number of attacks has dropped. In the last three weeks, there has not been one successful hijacking.

"It is becoming more difficult for the pirates to find ships to attack because we do have more of a presence," Baines said.

The real solution, commanders here say, is not on the sea, but on land - finding legal and political solutions to deal with pirates - and that may prove more difficult than any chase on the high seas.