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It'll be interesting to find out how the crew regained control of the ship; I find it hard to understand why ship's crews in this high-risk area aren't either allowed to carry weapons, or the ships to carry defensive personnel or to have some sort of military escort. Obviously the area is far too large to patrol with much chance of direct intrevention/prevention of a hijacking.

 

But with fewer than 200 US flagged ships in the area, it seems a reasonable alternative to either convoy with Naval escort, or to provide detachments of Marines on board with light artillery to welcome visiting pirates in a suitable and appropriate manner.

 

Maybe a better alternative is a complete blockade of the Somali coast with international participation, allowing nothing to go in or out except for humanitarian aid, food, etc., combined with a full scale effort to hunt down and eliminate all pirate vessels in operation. It's been done before, under sail, no less, no radar or sophisticated surveilance and detection other than a crow's nest lookout and a spyglass. This might also force the release of the ships and crews currently being held hostage.

 

My sympathies are with the family of the ship's Captain being held hostage, and prayers for his safe return.

Edited by Mtguide

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Last night PBS Newshour featured an interview with a commentator who said that arming crews, armed security and escort have all been suggested, but that shipping companies and ship owners have resisted it. A further suggestion by the commentator is to electrify the exterior waterline plates and metal railings of the ships to thwart boarding by pirates.

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I find it hard to understand why ship's crews in this high-risk area aren't either allowed to carry weapons

 

What kind of weapon? Some of these pirates have 20mm auto-cannons, and RPG's.

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Those weapons were mentioned in the Newshour interview; I'm not suggesting that small arms in the hands of crewmen would do anything to stand up to that kind of fire from determined pirates, which was why I also mentioned military/naval escort. Of course you'd need something that would be an obvious deterrent to a few guys in a little speedboat with some 20 mm's or RPGs.

 

But thinking more about it, I can understand the shipping companies' viewpoint, not wanting to risk the injury and death of crew, or the damage or even possible sinking of a vessel in an armed engagement. The insurance companies probably have a big influence on this--I suppose they consider a few tens of millions in ransom a lot cheaper than lawsuit settlements or the billions that would have to cover the loss of a ship and cargo.

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They don't carry weapons b/c of the large amount of flammable materials on board. Engaging in a firefight with the Pirates could potentially blow the whole fucking boat up. That's what's been said on the news, anyhow.

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Interesting article on the whole issue of weapons NYTimes

 

Also heard an interview on NPR's The World with a commentator who said that, despite perfectly valid concerns about shipboard fire or explosion caused by gunfire, or potential injury and death of crew, the sheer number of ships and crew currently being held hostage, as well as continuing pirate attacks, is beginning to tip the insurance actuary tables of risk probability to the point where armament in some form is liable to be considered less risky than allowing ships to travel this area unarmed. Right now there are 14 vessels, with over 250 crew, held hostage off Somalia, with ransom/release negotiations underway.

 

Current US score with rescue of Skipper Phillips of Maersk Alabama: US 5 (3 pirates killed, 1 pirate surrendered, Phillips recovered), Pirates 0. Yeehah!! :rawk::rocken:

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