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Piracy News & Commentary

Recent Pirate Attacks

Recent concerns have been brought forward regarding the possibility of a change in Somali pirate attacks, particularly in the Red Sea. Swarm attacks are not recent, having been noted with concern in the past. However, some analysts are concerned that the increase in armed protection aboard commercial shipping may be forcing pirates to change their tactics. As I've noted before, tactics will shift and evolve. Whether swarm attacks will succeed remains to be seen. So far, they have not. They require greater logistics and especially greater coordination. Although a fire team aboard a commercial vessel might have trouble engaging a dozen pirate skiffs simultaneously (most pirate swarm attacks involve fewer vessels), they should be able to adequately cover boarding points with deadly fire. Again, pirates are out for personal gain, and they will likely seek easier targets.

Some analysts warn of an escalation in weaponry, but such escalation will likely be met with overwhelming naval firepower: warship captains will not likely risk their ships by attempting to arrest pirates armed with heavy weapons, but would instead, after a warning, blow them out of the water. There are also suggestions that pirates may be using some of the small islands in the Red Sea as bases for these swarm attacks, given that they appear to have been unaccompanied by "mother ships." In this case, although I have advised against it in the past, military strikes may be warranted.
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