There Are Upsides To Piracy.

by Daniel Russ on June 8, 2012

Pirates Flag


This week, there is a flurry of news in Piracy and it isn’t all-bad. The San Jose Mercury News reported Monday that a 2013 trial date has been set for three Somali men who allegedly murdered four Americans in their yacht off the coast of Africa. The four Americans, all from Seattle were the first American fatalities in the ongoing Piracy scourge. Also Monday, a new maritime security firm, Typhon, has announced that it will soon be offering its services to protect shipping companies from attacks. Former Royal Marines will man its boats. The BBC reports that Six Somalis are on trial as we speak in Paris for hijacking the crew of the French luxury yacht Le Ponant off of the Gulf of Aden. Just two weeks ago European Union maritime forces strafed pirate skiffs and Arab Fishing Dhows suspected of being used to support Pirates. On the 15th of May, a UK Merlin helicopter launched from the HMS Westminster and destroyed an abandoned pirate skiff in the Indian Ocean. It later pursued and arrested it’s crew- the brisance recorded perfectly on camera as a dramatic message to pirates of the resolve boiling up against them. The Winnipeg Free Press reports that 11 crewmen who were captured from the Maersk Alabama three years ago have filed lawsuits. The highjacking was resolved by shots fired from Navy SEALS.


The activity is symptomatic of a general increase in pushback against the pirates that is beginning to take its toll on this arcane naval crime. There were 151 attacks on vessels in 2011 versus 127 in 2010. This year, with half the year already gone there have only been 5 successful attacks out of 25 attempts. Still piracy is lucrative. Pirates are averaging £ 4.87 million on each boat in ransoms. And frankly unless there is deadly force applied on the spot, there is little downside.


So far.


What This Tells Us About The Upsides.


Piracy is good for business. Insurers are already seeing significant profits as piracy has increased premiums on these deep pocket shippers. Security firms are also quick to show they can, for a fee, restore order to the turbulent seas off the coast of Africa. The shipping industry has welcomed them with open arms.  The business model works because the cost of security is lower than the increase in premiums. Also, one can imagine that people with the personal resources to have a wedding on a luxury yacht off the coast of Oman might be able to afford attorneys anywhere in the world. These trials have just started rippling into courtrooms across the globe. We can expect to see prosecutions from governments and the private sector.



Seafaring Maritime Forces Are Handling The Situation With Aplomb.  Piracy appears to be the only topic in the western hemisphere where armed seafaring nations are working in concert with little drama aside from the occasional business end of a machine gun. UK, US, Russian, French, Italian and even South Korean naval vessels patrol and cooperate on information sharing. In fact, aside from its sparseness, the reporting on piracy has been fairly good as well. So far piracy has not been politicized. Perhaps it’s a good thing that the United States media rarely covers the breath of piracy news or that Kim Kardashian draws more viewers than Somalians in a skiff.


The wheels of justice are turning.


The trials of captured hijackers are a sign of civilization in a part of the world that has seen little of it. International courts have been busy lately in measured thoughtful proceedings rarely seen in courtrooms on cable news. There is no Nancy Grace at the Hague, apparently, which makes these sorts of trials dreadfully boring to court watchers who want lurid details. The trails held for pirates is part of a larger trend we see where international criminals, and war criminals, even exiled heads of state are beginning the reap that which they have sewn. Recently a court in The Hague convicted Charles Taylor to 50 years in prison for his role in the terror and in particular for the dismemberment of opponents. Two years ago John Demjanjuk, a Nazi guard who hid his identity as an autoworker was convicted of crime against humanity for crime in Sobibor concentration camp and in Treblinka. Mubarak and his sons are on trial for stealing funds and abusing their power. Bad people are suddenly seeing the insides of jail cells.


That is all good news.


 Sources:  Wikipedia, BBC


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