Pirates? Just pay the ransom!

geezer

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I haven't visited this department in a while, so forgive me if this has been dealt with. Anyway, the pirate siezure of the US merchant ship Maersk Alabama has been in the news all week. As everyone knows, the ship was attacked and boarded by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. The American crew resisted and the pirates fled on a lifeboat, taking the ship's captain hostage. The US Navy came to the rescue and the the situation was eventually "resolved" with one pirate taken prisoner and the rest killed. And, thank God, both the captain, crew, and ship all safe.

OK, "happy ending" right? Well what caught my attention was the reported reaction of shipping companies. When several representatives of shipping companies were inteviewed they expressed concern and unease over the violent solution to this hostage/ransom situation. Their reaction was fear that this could lead to "an escalation of violence in the region" and that financially it was wiser for them to continue to negotiate and pay the ransom (often in excess of a million dollars) in such situations.

When asked why they didn't arm their ships, they responded that that might just provoke the pirates, increasing their losses and endangering their crews. This in turn would leave them open to liability (lawsuits?) from the crew or their families. And, since many of these companies are not US based, they don't feel that they can depend upon the US Navy to intervene. So these companies would rather just pay out their ransoms as a cost of doing business.

So how do you guys feel about this as a defensive strategy/ Don't arm your crew or pay for professional security forces on your ships. Just pay a cool million or two to any rag-tag bunch of out of work Somali fisherman that happen across your path. Personally, I feel that kind of thinking would make a lot of folks consider a career in piracy!
 

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My opinion? Mount a few M-60's around the ship's railing and have a few sailors capable of firing rocket launchers. Maybe a few Stingers in case some of the pirates have access to helicopters. The pirates will either find a new line of work or they'll be dead.

Either way, it's all good.
 

Bruno@MT

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Personally, I think the US / France / UK / ... Should use piracy hostage situations as a training exercise for the Seals, SAS, French Foreign Legion, etc. They could organize a merry go round system to decide who gets to do what.

It would give the forces a lot of additional experience, and it would seriously put a damper on piracy after the umpteenth pirate crew gets slaughtered.
It could be dangerous to the crews because pirates won't take hostages anymore, but otoh they couldn't really fence a big tanker without people noticing, which would allow the forces to quitely settle the score.

No doubt this plan has many shortcomings. And since I am not in the forces it is of course I am really an armchair quarterback. But piracy exists because of the profit. Take away profit and switch it with certain death. Piracy should drop significantly in my armchair qb opinion.
 

MJS

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I haven't visited this department in a while, so forgive me if this has been dealt with. Anyway, the pirate siezure of the US merchant ship Maersk Alabama has been in the news all week. As everyone knows, the ship was attacked and boarded by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. The American crew resisted and the pirates fled on a lifeboat, taking the ship's captain hostage. The US Navy came to the rescue and the the situation was eventually "resolved" with one pirate taken prisoner and the rest killed. And, thank God, both the captain, crew, and ship all safe.

I was happy to hear that the Capt. was rescued. I certainly tip my hat to the SEALS, as well as anyone else who played a roll in the rescue operations.

OK, "happy ending" right? Well what caught my attention was the reported reaction of shipping companies. When several representatives of shipping companies were inteviewed they expressed concern and unease over the violent solution to this hostage/ransom situation. Their reaction was fear that this could lead to "an escalation of violence in the region" and that financially it was wiser for them to continue to negotiate and pay the ransom (often in excess of a million dollars) in such situations.

I believe this was the first time the pirates ever encountered resistance. IMHO, something should be done to combat this issue. I mean, we, the US, seem to help everyone, so if Somalia is in such rough shape, what could we do to help them, so they wouldn't have to hijack ships?

I heard the pirates say that they usually don't harm the people on the ship, treat and feed them well, and once the ransom is paid, everyone is on their way. Now, the next time a US ship is hijacked, I'm sure things will be worse from the beginning.

When asked why they didn't arm their ships, they responded that that might just provoke the pirates, increasing their losses and endangering their crews. This in turn would leave them open to liability (lawsuits?) from the crew or their families. And, since many of these companies are not US based, they don't feel that they can depend upon the US Navy to intervene. So these companies would rather just pay out their ransoms as a cost of doing business.

Damed if they do, damned if they don't. No matter what happens, someone, somewhere, won't be happy. As for arming people....sure, as long as they're trained to function under the stress that the hijacking will bring. Just handing guns to people and saying, "Ok, go at it." is, IMO, doing more harm than good.

So how do you guys feel about this as a defensive strategy/ Don't arm your crew or pay for professional security forces on your ships. Just pay a cool million or two to any rag-tag bunch of out of work Somali fisherman that happen across your path. Personally, I feel that kind of thinking would make a lot of folks consider a career in piracy!

IMO, handing over what the pirates want, is no different than handing over our cash and car keys to someone mugging us. We ASSUME that if we comply, nothing will happen. Sorry, but I'm not assuming anything! We've been lucky that the hijackings that take place are somewhat non violent. I'm sure this will all change now.

I say defend the ships. If that means armed guards, then so be it.
 

Bill Mattocks

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I think that business sees things differently than nations do.

First - they're insured. And insurance companies often dictate the rules by which the companies must dance. One should look to the insurance company involved and see what their policy regarding piracy demands are, and how they came to that conclusion.

Second - it's a legitimate business loss - and thus a tax write-off.

Third - from the point of view of the business, it's a toll, a tax, a levy, albeit an occasional one. Cost of doing business, I'm sure it is written into their business plan.

Fourth - as has been mentioned, the liability could easily exceed the cost of paying ransoms. Encourage crews to fight back, refuse to pay ransoms, etc, and let some crew members get killed. The lawsuit settlements could easily dwarf what they pay now in ransoms. Refer to point #1 above.

Fifth - they're hardly the only ones. Look at the oil companies doing business in South America and Africa, and how they pay protection money and extortion money and kidnapping money to local rebels for the right to keep their refineries, etc, up and running.

In all these cases, business is not concerned in the slightest with doing what is 'right'. They're not in it to fix things. They're in it to make a profit. If they can survive the odd piracy and associated costs and still make a profit, there is no motivation for them to change, especially if they can write off their losses and they don't get sued by the families of dead crewmembers.

Do I agree with that? No, I do not. I agree with blowing up pirates as quickly as they can be identified. But that's not how businesses operate.

Now, if I were a smart Somalian pirate, I'd be forming a 'anti-piracy' company and offering my services to accompany ships passing through the region and fighting off pirates as required. I'd make a pretty penny, I'd be friends with the US Navy, and if it so happened that my pirate friends and I split the 'payment' after unsuccessful 'pirate' attacks, who's to know? But that's just me, I'm sneaky like that.
 

jim777

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Unfortunately, as was said a number of times during this crisis, arming the ships is actually more costly to the shipping companies than paying the occasional ransom due to the increased insurance costs for armed ships. Further, many ports simply won't allow armed ships to dock and unload, either. I don't see this issue resolving until there is actually a stable, functioning government in Somalia.
 

searcher

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Personally, I think the US / France / UK / ... Should use piracy hostage situations as a training exercise for the Seals, SAS, French Foreign Legion, etc. They could organize a merry go round system to decide who gets to do what.

It would give the forces a lot of additional experience, and it would seriously put a damper on piracy after the umpteenth pirate crew gets slaughtered.
It could be dangerous to the crews because pirates won't take hostages anymore, but otoh they couldn't really fence a big tanker without people noticing, which would allow the forces to quitely settle the score.

No doubt this plan has many shortcomings. And since I am not in the forces it is of course I am really an armchair quarterback. But piracy exists because of the profit. Take away profit and switch it with certain death. Piracy should drop significantly in my armchair qb opinion.


Let me help you out here. No need formore live training for any CT group. They get a crapload already and have a great deal of hands-on experience dealing with terrorists.

But it was a nice thought.
 

celtic_crippler

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I think that business sees things differently than nations do.

First - they're insured. And insurance companies often dictate the rules by which the companies must dance. One should look to the insurance company involved and see what their policy regarding piracy demands are, and how they came to that conclusion.

Second - it's a legitimate business loss - and thus a tax write-off.

Businesses, including Insurance Companies, do not have money trees. Expenses are passed on to the consumer (that's me and you.) So those pirates are harming a heck of lot more people than you think.

Third - from the point of view of the business, it's a toll, a tax, a levy, albeit an occasional one. Cost of doing business, I'm sure it is written into their business plan.

...see above.

Fourth - as has been mentioned, the liability could easily exceed the cost of paying ransoms. Encourage crews to fight back, refuse to pay ransoms, etc, and let some crew members get killed. The lawsuit settlements could easily dwarf what they pay now in ransoms. Refer to point #1 above.

That is a good point. But two wrongs don't make a right. Fear of possible repercussions of criminals in regards to enforcing the law is not a viable reason to let them run amuck...all willy-nilly doing whatever they please.

By that same logic, why enforce any law? If we jail the rapist then they'll just be that much more....excited...when they get out of jail and rape even more! So don't jail them!

Fifth - they're hardly the only ones. Look at the oil companies doing business in South America and Africa, and how they pay protection money and extortion money and kidnapping money to local rebels for the right to keep their refineries, etc, up and running.

That's their decision. In regards to how we handle OUR business we shouldn't look to another countries weakness as validation to do nothing to combat a wrong.

In all these cases, business is not concerned in the slightest with doing what is 'right'. They're not in it to fix things. They're in it to make a profit. If they can survive the odd piracy and associated costs and still make a profit, there is no motivation for them to change, especially if they can write off their losses and they don't get sued by the families of dead crewmembers.

You're probably right about that. In business, it's about the bottom line.

But...if they can no longer sell their products because nobody buys them because the cost rises past what folks are willing to pay (the whole opportunity cost thing from economics...) due to them passing those expenses on to the consumer..... well

Besides, it's not really about the businesses involved. Those "employees" are American citizens and our government has a responsibility to "provide for their defense"...as well as do what it can to curtail anything that would hinder international trade....like piracy.

Do I agree with that? No, I do not. I agree with blowing up pirates as quickly as they can be identified. But that's not how businesses operate.

Ross Perot would beg to differ. LOL Iran Hostage Crisis anyone?

Seriously, I get your point but this situation is much "bigger" than "big business."

Now, if I were a smart Somalian pirate, I'd be forming a 'anti-piracy' company and offering my services to accompany ships passing through the region and fighting off pirates as required. I'd make a pretty penny, I'd be friends with the US Navy, and if it so happened that my pirate friends and I split the 'payment' after unsuccessful 'pirate' attacks, who's to know? But that's just me, I'm sneaky like that.

Now that's Capitalism at its finest!! :)
 

clfsean

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Not picking on you, but ...

I believe this was the first time the pirates ever encountered resistance. IMHO, something should be done to combat this issue. I mean, we, the US, seem to help everyone, so if Somalia is in such rough shape, what could we do to help them, so they wouldn't have to hijack ships?

We tried helping once... cost us Rangers & SF guys thanks to an incomplete assessment of the situation & the operation being run from DC instead of Mogedishu and the the frikkin UN had it's fat little fingers in it too...

I say we pay their ransom the way we just did... 180 grains of Pb at a time or more...
 

Bill Mattocks

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I mean, we, the US, seem to help everyone, so if Somalia is in such rough shape, what could we do to help them, so they wouldn't have to hijack ships?

I'm sorry, I thought everyone knew about our disastrous intervention in Somalia. I was out of the Marines by that time, but my then brother-in-law (also a Marine) was there, and he doesn't like to talk about it. It was a very bad situation.

http://www.military.com/NewContent/0,13190,NI_Somalia_0104,00.html

NI_Somalia_0104-1.jpg
 

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Now, if I were a smart Somalian pirate, I'd be forming a 'anti-piracy' company and offering my services to accompany ships passing through the region and fighting off pirates as required. I'd make a pretty penny, I'd be friends with the US Navy, and if it so happened that my pirate friends and I split the 'payment' after unsuccessful 'pirate' attacks, who's to know? But that's just me, I'm sneaky like that.

Its actually a good idea, assuming you were a Somali pirate. It would almost be like operating under a letter of Marque, I suppose.

I just hope that we make the one that we have in custody walk the plank. Seems fitting, thematicalty.

Mark
 

CoryKS

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The fact is that this will make things more complicated for those who prefer to pay the Danegeld. Doesn't mean that it was the wrong thing to do. Now they're going to have to decide whether they want to arm themselves or hope for leniency from the pirates.
 

celtic_crippler

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...or hope for leniency from the pirates.

:lfao:

..yeah...that's what I always hope for from any criminal; murderer, rapist, robber, child molester, pirate, you name it....leniency...than God for that!

What would the world be like without all those lenient bad guys. I mean... we might actually have to consider what it would be like to be a victim! Can you imagine? Man....I can't. :uhyeah:
 

MJS

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Not picking on you, but ...



We tried helping once... cost us Rangers & SF guys thanks to an incomplete assessment of the situation & the operation being run from DC instead of Mogedishu and the the frikkin UN had it's fat little fingers in it too...

I say we pay their ransom the way we just did... 180 grains of Pb at a time or more...

I'm sorry, I thought everyone knew about our disastrous intervention in Somalia. I was out of the Marines by that time, but my then brother-in-law (also a Marine) was there, and he doesn't like to talk about it. It was a very bad situation.

http://www.military.com/NewContent/0,13190,NI_Somalia_0104,00.html

NI_Somalia_0104-1.jpg

Nope, didn't take that as picking on me at all. :) Goes to show how much I payed attention to history in school. LOL. Seriously though...IMO, something needs to be done. Either continue to pay the ransom or start using force. Especially now since we shot 3 of them dead, it seems that if there is another US ship hijacked, I'm willing to bet there will be alot more victims.
 

MJS

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I think that business sees things differently than nations do.

First - they're insured. And insurance companies often dictate the rules by which the companies must dance. One should look to the insurance company involved and see what their policy regarding piracy demands are, and how they came to that conclusion.

Second - it's a legitimate business loss - and thus a tax write-off.

Third - from the point of view of the business, it's a toll, a tax, a levy, albeit an occasional one. Cost of doing business, I'm sure it is written into their business plan.

Fourth - as has been mentioned, the liability could easily exceed the cost of paying ransoms. Encourage crews to fight back, refuse to pay ransoms, etc, and let some crew members get killed. The lawsuit settlements could easily dwarf what they pay now in ransoms. Refer to point #1 above.

Fifth - they're hardly the only ones. Look at the oil companies doing business in South America and Africa, and how they pay protection money and extortion money and kidnapping money to local rebels for the right to keep their refineries, etc, up and running.

In all these cases, business is not concerned in the slightest with doing what is 'right'. They're not in it to fix things. They're in it to make a profit. If they can survive the odd piracy and associated costs and still make a profit, there is no motivation for them to change, especially if they can write off their losses and they don't get sued by the families of dead crewmembers.

Do I agree with that? No, I do not. I agree with blowing up pirates as quickly as they can be identified. But that's not how businesses operate.

Now, if I were a smart Somalian pirate, I'd be forming a 'anti-piracy' company and offering my services to accompany ships passing through the region and fighting off pirates as required. I'd make a pretty penny, I'd be friends with the US Navy, and if it so happened that my pirate friends and I split the 'payment' after unsuccessful 'pirate' attacks, who's to know? But that's just me, I'm sneaky like that.

Businesses, including Insurance Companies, do not have money trees. Expenses are passed on to the consumer (that's me and you.) So those pirates are harming a heck of lot more people than you think.



...see above.



That is a good point. But two wrongs don't make a right. Fear of possible repercussions of criminals in regards to enforcing the law is not a viable reason to let them run amuck...all willy-nilly doing whatever they please.

By that same logic, why enforce any law? If we jail the rapist then they'll just be that much more....excited...when they get out of jail and rape even more! So don't jail them!



That's their decision. In regards to how we handle OUR business we shouldn't look to another countries weakness as validation to do nothing to combat a wrong.



You're probably right about that. In business, it's about the bottom line.

But...if they can no longer sell their products because nobody buys them because the cost rises past what folks are willing to pay (the whole opportunity cost thing from economics...) due to them passing those expenses on to the consumer..... well

Besides, it's not really about the businesses involved. Those "employees" are American citizens and our government has a responsibility to "provide for their defense"...as well as do what it can to curtail anything that would hinder international trade....like piracy.



Ross Perot would beg to differ. LOL Iran Hostage Crisis anyone?

Seriously, I get your point but this situation is much "bigger" than "big business."



Now that's Capitalism at its finest!! :)


Interesting views here. While I see what you're saying Bill, I can't help but think that this is bowing down to the badguys once again. By always giving in, we're, and forgive me for using this word again, assuming that all will be ok. We'll never rid the world of crime, but we need to take active steps to fight it.
 

Bill Mattocks

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Interesting views here. While I see what you're saying Bill, I can't help but think that this is bowing down to the badguys once again. By always giving in, we're, and forgive me for using this word again, assuming that all will be ok. We'll never rid the world of crime, but we need to take active steps to fight it.

The problem is the 'we' that you're talking about. Businesses (at least until recently) got to make their own decisions about how they'd do business. Pay pirates or don't, it was their decision to make. No 'we' in it.

In the Age of Obama, that may all be different now. We'll have to see.
 

Gordon Nore

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Interesting views here. While I see what you're saying Bill, I can't help but think that this is bowing down to the badguys once again. By always giving in, we're, and forgive me for using this word again, assuming that all will be ok. We'll never rid the world of crime, but we need to take active steps to fight it.

I've highlighted these words because I think that's the issue. There is no absolute we in this. This recent episode could have gone in a different direction if the US Navy vessels had been a day or even a few hours further out. As of the moment, ships travelling through the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden cannot count on military back-up the instant they need it. In the absence of guaranteed protection of the military, the cargo companies have found a way of protecting their interests and avoiding lawsuits.

I think there is a legitimate concern that there will be some payback for this latest incident. I would say now there is going to have to be a multi-national build up of support in the water and the air.
 

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