Back in the olden days pirates would hoist their flag and board ships to plunder and then head their merry way to a safe harbor. Today, modern pirates come, not with sword and musket, but with grenade launchers and swift little boats that do not hoist any flags. Somalian pirates have made waters off the coast of east Africa an adventure in dodging their swift boats, but the recent capture by pirates of a huge 329 metre tanker has raised the stakes. If the pirate escapades continue it will impact the price of oil since so many ships which sail the coast of east Africa are carrying oil from the Middle East. The weekend’s seizure of the oil tanker Sirius Star, has made clear no ship is safe as long as it sails near the east African shore.
During the past decade, ship captains were told to stay at least 200 nautical miles off the African coast, but the Sirius Star was 450 nautical miles away and south of Somalia when it was boarded.
Ordinarily, pirates make their demands for money, the money is paid, and pirates continue their operations. Perhaps, it is time for a new approach in which extensive naval ships are ordered into the area and pirates are killed. Unfortunately, some hostages will be killed in such operations, but without aggressive action pirates will go their merry way of plunder.