On Sunday, November 29 a Greek-owned oil tanker, the Maran Centaurus, delivering oil from Saudi Arabia to New Orleans, USA, was hijacked 800 miles off the coast of Somalia. “A spokesman for the Greek coastguard told Reuters news agency that about nine armed pirates attacked the ship close to the Seychelles.” The ship had 300,000 tons of dead weight and 28 crew members, made up of 16 Filipinos, 9 Greeks, 2 Ukrainians, and 1 Romanian. Maran Tankers Management said that the crew was OK. The tanker is now heading towards Somalia.
In November 2008 the Sirius Star, which carried two million barrels of oil, became the largest vessel hijacked by the pirates. It was released in January 2009 after a ransom of $3 million was paid to the pirates.
Somali pirates have been a problem for awhile now. Every few months one can hear news of them capturing this or that ship. Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991 and pirates have been left free to roam the waters in search of “prey.” Recently the pirates started venturing farther into the ocean. They use a “mother ship” to go out into the high seas and then use smaller boats to carry out their attacks. Currently, Somali pirates hold 11 vessels and 264 crew members captive.
Somalia analyst at the International Crisis Group Rashid Abdi said that the presence of the world’s navies has made little change to the way pirates behave. “This incident clearly shows the pirates are becoming bolder. So I don’t think the solution is in building the naval deployment there, or increasing the naval deployment. The problem is actually in dealing with the governance crisis which feeds the problem of piracy.”
As long as the companies are willing to pay the ransom, the pirates will go out and capture as many vessels as they can. Over the years I have seen the number of hijacking cases increase. I am sure that there are even more hijackings that are not reported. Obviously, simply patrolling this area is not working. I have an idea on how to crack down on piracy. The owners of the ships need to hire fully armed military personnel that would travel on the ship and keep watch 24/7. When they would see anything approach they would call out a warning to stop or they would open fire and follow through with the threat if the warning was not heeded! The pirates do not hesitate to use brutal force and firearms; why should we spare them? My idea may seem radical to some of you, but why should we suffer being bullied like that? They need to learn that “if they live by the sword, they will die by the sword!” The main problem with my idea is the cost these companies will have to put into this protection but as Thomas Jefferson’s slogan of 1805 states “Millions for defense, but not a cent for tribute!”