I try to keep on top of news in the world of piracy, a couple things have caught my eye over the last week:
- Warships on patrol can only do so much to prevent pirate attacks, so many shippers and nations have taken to arming their crews. This article discusses the recent arrest in Kenya of two crewman and the Captain of MV Belgica a German owned, Panama flagged ship. The crewman and Captain were arrested after authorities seized a vareity of weaponry from the ship. Local laws vary, but merchants have resisted arming their crews for exactly this reason – in places like Kenya, ships are placed between a rock and a hard place – they want weapons to defend against piracy, but the weapons themselves may be illegal in the ports they ship to.
- While piracy in Somalia has garnered the bulk of the headlines, it’s a problem throughout the world – most recently, it’s starting to bloom off the coast of West Africa. Unfortunately, the piracy there has already taken a deadly turn, with the Captain and Chief Engineer of a merchant veseel killed in a gunfight with pirates off the coast of Nigeria. The piracy there has a different (and more violent) flavor than off the coast of Somalia – there is enough governance there to make the long-term capture of a ship for ransom impossible. Pirates, then, are after the cargo and valuables of the crew, not the crew itself – good for the shipping companies that are less likely to lose a ship, bad for the crews because their lives aren’t worth anything to the pirates.