2008 Sees The Return of Piracy

Somali pirates take supertanker Sirius Star
Somali pirates take supertanker Sirius Star

Piracy is a term that we’ve long associated with robbery, murder and mayhem all done at sea.  We know the stories of Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, and the fictional swashbuckling stories such as Captain Hook in Peter Pan.  But pirates are regaining prominence out of the history books and story books and into real life.  Piracy remains a issue, specifically in the waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.  More specifically the 1,800 mile long coastline of Somalia, and much of the seas off of north Africa, have been a recent hotbed of pirate activity. 

Most recently, on Tuesday three ships were reported to have been hijacked by pirates off the coast of northeast Africa.  These bring the total to 95 commercial vessels that have been attacked by pirates in that area just this year alone.  That amount tripled the total from last year, which tripled the number of incidents the year before.  So to say that its becoming a trendy problem is putting it lightly.

One of the latest attacks, on the Sirius Star, a supertanker carrying crude oil with an estimated value of approximately $100 million, is one of the worlds newest and largest oil tankers.  That vessel was likely taken by Somali pirates who are now perhaps evading an international patrol area known as the Maritime Security Patrol Area, that are specifically targeting Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden.  

Piracy was seemingly being allowed to grow due to the conditions in the country of Somalia, who are in widespread civil war and the lack a central government there.  Somalia is located right at the heart of the Horn of Africa where we find a good percentage of the most recent attacks.  Some pirates are former fishermen who are afraid that foreign ships are threatening their livelihood by fishing off the coast of Somalia.  But they find themselves in well organized groups usually led by warlords, corrupt business men, or perhaps local authorities.  The whole situation the country finds itself in breeds lawlessness and as long as significant multinational efforts aren’t put forth, this will continue.

Not for nothin’, but this is a form of new terrorism.  It’s essentially the same thing and the type of terrorism that we are fighting wars for.  This time its done at sea.  Its a billion dollar business for pirates who see the thousands of ships that use those waters as easy targets for oil, food, cargo, weapos, or anything thats worth money.  Recent multinational efforts led by the United States seek to put a stop to it.  But as long as ransom is being paid to these new terrorist, nothing significant will be done to stop the new wave of pirates. 


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