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Piracy News & Commentary

The Cost of Somali Piracy

The Economist magazine (April 11, 2013) quotes a World Bank estimate of an $18 billion annual cost of piracy. Other estimates are listed in the notes and errata section of the Pirate Hunting page.
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Hostage Rescue

A BZ to Puntland forces who rescued 22 hostages aboard the MV Iceberg 1. The ship was captured by Somali pirates almost three years ago.
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Somali Piracy Diminished, At Least Temporarily

Good article on the present state of Somali piracy: http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/party-somali-pirates-attacks-17320672. It's still too soon to tell if the scourge of Somali piracy is nearly over--it may have a brief respite, and there's always the unlikely chance of a significant increase in tactical ability--but at least time has proved  Read More 
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Appropriate Use of Force

Some criticism has blown up recently over video (that should never have been posted) of a security team apparently defending its ship from attack by Somali pirates. The article posted here provides a general summary of the issues. I disagree with the title  Read More 
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BZ Navy SEALs

A BZ to the Navy SEALs, along with other U.S. special operations forces, who rescued two aid workers captured by pirates--by criminal elements ashore who often work as pirates, that is. Nine pirates were killed in the rescue. According to local sources, as well as some early news reports citing an FBI source,  Read More 
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Piracy Convictions

Mohamud Hirs Issa Ali, a former Somali police officer who became the commander of a band of nineteen pirates, was convicted in Virginia of piracy and for his role in the murder of four U.S. citizens aboard the yacht Quest. He was sentenced to life in prison. A former electrician, Jilian  Read More 
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Footnote on Armed Guards

As I noted more than a year ago in Pirate Hunting and years ago in notes and blogs, armed guards remain the most viable interim solution to Somali piracy. Both governments and shipping companies to a large degree have accepted this as inevitable.
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Heavy Machine Guns

This week the Spanish government approved the use of heavy machineguns by private security forces against Somali pirates. Some analysts have been quick to condemn this act as leading to a possible arms race at sea. The machineguns--often described in commentary as "heavy weapons," leaving an impression of more powerful arms--fire a 12.7x99mm NATO, that is, the .50 BMG round. In other words,  Read More 
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To Repeat (While Stomping Foot) One More Time...

Again, commentators are making much of Somali pirate "swarm" tactics, and appear to be surprised by them. Let me repeat: tactics will evolve! Possible future tactics include the ability to breach citadels; the use (with dire consequences for Somali pirates) of heavier weapons; better communication and coordination among Somali pirates, making swarm tactics more  Read More 
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Difficulties in Prosecution of Pirates

A recent article in the Danish Maritime Magazine points up the difficulties of pirate prosecutions in some cases. Danish law, for example, requires a suspect to be brought before a judge within 24 hours of arrest. Although there are reasonable exceptions, the 30 days in one recent case and 40 in another are excessive, many  Read More 
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