Here be pirates

plank The pirates had no fear. We fired everything we had but in the end we had to jump overboard – Times Online

Carl Mason and his two colleagues decided that they had no choice. Six heavily-armed and intoxicated Somali pirates had seized the tanker and crew that the three British security guards were supposed to be protecting.

It is easy to blame the soldiers for this debacle but a soldier without a weapon is just another hostage. The very idea that they could stop gun totting Somali pirates with hoses, is laughable. Water and sonic devices are no match for AK-47s and Rocket Propelled Grenades.

Sonic cannon

It was amusing to hear the account of the much vaunted LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Device) in use.

The British security men lugged the LRAD to the front of the bridge and directed it straight at the skiff but, said Mr Mason, “it had no effect whatsoever. If we’d had ten of them it would have made no difference.” Mr Kelly concurred: “It was rubbish. It didn’t do a thing. They were laughing at it.”

Precisely as expected then. I always assumed that the device would be utterly pointless, after all even if it were extremely effective, the next time the pirates attack a vessel using it, they need only wear industrial ear plugs.

Now a deck cannon, would have been much more useful and there just isn’t any sort of ear protection available to negate that. The problem is apparently due to international law and insurance for cargo (especially the flammable kind), some ports and nations do not like the idea that ships of armed men could dock at any point.

I suppose countries such as Britain would be included in this as any type of firearm is illegal in Britain. That said, and even though I am not expert in maritime law, surely if the guns remain on the ship, no laws are broken?

Sea Marshals

hms northumberland Also,  if we can have air marshals on international flights, surely we can have armed guards on ships? Until the ships are able to protect themselves this piracy will continue and spread. Even if every navy in the world sent all of their ships to the region, the pirates would still be able to operate, barely hindered. Not every single ship in the area can be escorted, not unless the world reverts to WWII convoys.

Let’s be honest, if you lived in one of the poorest nations on earth, but could earn $1 million in just a few days, wouldn’t you? It is going to take a hell of a lot before the relatively easy and safe work of piracy becomes unattractive to young Somalians.

Abandon ship

This has left those who believed that they could make a fortune from the situation, like Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions, pointless and out of work.

APMSS never recovered. When the Biscaglia was attacked it had ten teams protecting ships off Somalia, each earning £14,000 for a few days’ work. Today it has just one.

The ship owners have realised that they are in reality just extra crew members and are no more likely to be able to prevent pirates from boarding than a gust of wind.

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