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Piracy News & Commentary

More Hungry Young Fools With Guns

After the release of the Turkish bulk carrier Horizon I and her crew of twenty-three, owing to the payment of a $1.7 ransom ($1.5 million in some reports), a separate gang of pirates attempted to rob those who had captured and ransomed the ship. According to Garowe Online, a Somali news agency, fighting broke  Read More 
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Hungry Young Fools With Guns

Five Somali pirates were captured after mistakenly attacking a French warship, the Somme, with small arms at night, roughly 270 nautical miles offshore. Pirates have been ranging farther and farther to sea in the search for prey, and an increase in night attacks has been predicted. Even so, it takes more than daring  Read More 
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US Counter-Piracy Initiatives

Secretary of State Clinton has announced a four part plan to combat Somali piracy. First, the US will “help the Somalis assist us in cracking down on pirate bases and in decreasing incentives for young Somali men to engage in piracy.” Second, via the International Contact Group on Piracy, the US will press for  Read More 
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Notes and Observations on Recent Somali Piracy

Predictions and Outcomes. Many analysts had predicted that the US would not use force to resolve the Maersk Alabama hostage situation, arguing that hostage rescues are risky, both for hostages and for rescuers. And they are. However, many analysts forget about two critical elements of tactics: the seizing of opportunity,  Read More 
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Somali Piracy Finally a US Issue

The recent pirate attack on the US-flagged Maersk Alabama--whose captain and crew courageously resisted the pirates--has finally brought the issue of Somali piracy to the forefront in the US. The attention is well-deserved, for Somali piracy has become a significant threat to the shipping along one of the great world  Read More 
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Private Security for Commercial Shipping

The issue of responsibility for the protection of commercial shipping in pirate waters has been much debated recently, particularly with the rise of Somali piracy. Until the mid-nineteenth century, responsibility was divided between navies and merchant vessels. Navies did what they could, patrolling pirate waters and occasionally raiding pirate strongholds, but the sea is  Read More 
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Fear of Consequences

Although the US Navy inspected the boats of departing pirates after a ransom was recently paid to free the arms vessel MV Faina, it took no action against the pirates. (The boats were inspected in order to ensure that no arms from the vessel's cargo were being transported ashore.) The Associated Press quotes a spokesperson for the  Read More 
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Tactical Adaptation

It is a fact of war--and of life in general--that tactics inspire countermeasures, which in turn inspire the improvement of tactics, and even new tactics. The principal military response to the Somali pirates has been an increase in naval patrols, and which has initially been successful in reducing the number  Read More 
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Piracy versus Terrorism Part 2

On January 28, the New York Times published "Backgrounder: Combating Maritime Piracy" by Stephanie Hanson. The following is an expanded version of a letter to the editor I wrote in response, but which was not published.

The article points out correctly that experts (a word much  Read More 
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Anti-Pirate Sonic Lasers

Lloyd's List, a publication of the venerable insurance firm Lloyd's of London, not to mention the world's leading maritime newspaper, reported today that Somali pirates have released the US-owned chemical tanker Biscaglia and its crew of twenty-eight, almost certainly after payment of an undisclosed ransom. The capture of the tanker last  Read More 
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