A solution to the pirates off the coast of Somalia

freighterYo ho ho, and a freighter of munitions.

Self styled amateur pirates have a strangle hold on the active shipping routes off the shores of Somalia. They are reaping multi-million dollar booty for their exploits. Reports state that Somali pirates are currently holding as many as a dozen ships for ransom, and that reported incidences of freighter hijackings have reached a total of nearly 100 vessels. All is not well though, for the self proclaimed Black Beards and Jack Sparrows of maritime Somalia. The seafaring terrorist cult made the unsightly error, on September 25, of hijacking a shipment of munitions which includes as many as 30 Russian T-72 tanks. The tanks and other assorted war making paraphernalia are aboard the ill fated MV Faina, which issued from Ukraine. At last report, a Russian frigate was en route to the scene while American warships hold MV Faina and it's pirate crew at bay.

Setting aside the obvious seriousness of the situation for a moment, I see a couple of clear cut opportunities here. First, we must consider that these pirates know that sea going freighters carry payloads worth millions of dollars each. They have proven that maritime insurers will grudgingly pay million dollar ransoms to get hijacked ships released. It has become an almost excepted cost of doing business. Therein lies the opportunity.

Just for the sake of this proposal, let's say that maritime insurers are willing to pay $1 million per ship, to get them back from some pirates. It stands to reason then, that those same insurers would pay $750 thousand per ship, to have their insured vessels reach their destinations unmolested. I don't know about you, but with one series of phone calls, I could easily round up a half dozen guys who would be more than glad to take $100 thousand dollars to spend a couple months with rocket propelled grenade launchers and deck mounted 50 cal. machine guns, ready to give some Somali pirates a one way tour of Davey Jones's locker. Heck, I know a couple guys who'd do it for $20,000.

An alternative strategy, for our law and order hard-liners out there, would be for the United States Navy to sell reasonably priced escort services to ships which must navigate that treacherous stretch of sea. Would $100 thousand be a fair price for a four day escort by a USN destroyer? I don't think there's a Constitutional prohibition against our Navy taking mercenary contracts, is there? Unfortunately, the United States Navy is indicating that there is nothing they can effectively do about the problem.

There is only one possible draw back that I can think of in these protective scenarios. There might be some down side in the inevitable outcome. After about six months of effective pirate squelching, I imagine that the need for seagoing escorts might suddenly drop off, when a host of Somali seamen eventually grasp the undeniably great wisdom in returning to the safe and quiet pursuit of fishing for tuna. They say that all good things must come to an end. I suppose that also includes lucrative piracy, and the effective protection therefrom.

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