Sunday, April 12, 2009


Today the stand-off between four Somali pirates holding the captain of a U.S. merchant ship ended when Navy SEALS killed three of the pirates after the hostage escaped a second time. Pirates! In this day and age!

We can’t think of pirates today without conjuring images of jolly men (and scantily clad women), funny beards and three-cornered hats growling Arggggg to each other. But the reality of piracy today is deadly earnest and serious economic consequence. Of course, pirates have been seizing ships for some time in recent years; it just became news worthy because now an American ship was boarded. Now we suddenly want to do something about piracy.

Back in 1790, Alexander Hamilton established the U.S. Coast Guard (under the Department of Treasury, not Defense) originally to protect the economic interests of the county by combating smuggling and piracy on the high seas. – And, hey, while you’re out there, rescuing ships in distress might also be nice.

Because piracy directly affects economic interests, it seems reasonable to me that shipping companies would want to spend a little money to save a LOT of money and invest in private security on their vessels. It’s not a novel concept - We have security guards in banks, armored car drivers are armed, TSA in airports. In an economy that is crying out for jobs, I would think there would be more than enough applicants with previous military or police experience eager to take on this type of employment. We Americans are always touting our “entrepreneurial spirit”; I am surprised that half a dozen private shipboard security companies haven’t sprung into existence by now. C’mon, I couldn’t have been the first guy to come up with this idea?! I would call them Sea Marshals instead of Air Marshals.

These private security forces could be stationed at either end of the piracy trouble routes; sailing on the ships through the troubled waters until they reach port or out of the danger zone - Then hopping the next ship back the other way. I am not an accountant, but I would think the cost of private security would be less expensive than, say, a multi-million dollar ransom. And again… we need jobs!!!

This seems like such a dumb conversation to be having. The might, resources and smarts of the civilized world HAVE to be smarter than a bunch of illiterate thugs with AK-47’s and a motor boat.


Rachel Noy said...

You would think they'd invest in security.

If you're going to start up your own company, I'll gladly work for you. I was always good with a BB gun, and yesterday around the table at Easter I flicked a spoon of chocolate pudding right into my brother's eye.

Let me know!

Robert the Skeptic said...

Rachael: You can handle a BB gun AND you almost put someone's eye out... you meet the basic qualifications for shipboard security.

My mother wouldn't allow me to have a BB gun when I was a kid for that very reason! Welcome aboard!

Rachel said...

If I were a money lender Id give you the start-up capital, for I think youre on to something here!

But then again, if I were a banker, Id be busy trying to scam more money out of honest american citizens.

and btw, no joke, my word verification: "fluck"

kara said...

i enjoy the numbers of commenters named "rachel".

what you'll need to do is hire some pirates to jack up the demand before you start your business. i'll invest. i've got some spanish gold hidden under my bed.