Protect the People Stupid: New Commodity in the Gulf of Aden

Out of Africa, news about record number of people being held for ransom by Somali pirates. The numbers are staggering; such is the economics driving piracy in this sea lane critical to global commerce. As many expert investigators know if you want to get to the root of chronic crime problem, follow the money. That is indeed what the pirates are after; they’re telling the shipping companies and their insurance policies to show them the money. Their sweet spot is not only taking whole cargo ships hostage, but taking the crew members to induce faster payment.

So far the benefits (Payment of $12.3 million ransom for 2 ships recently) have outweighed the risks of being interdicted by the multi-national naval force currently deployed in the region and the cost of doing business remains low. They recognized the odds are in their favor having 1.1 million miles of sea, encompassing the Horn of Africa, as their playground.

Of the recent innovations and best practices adopted by some merchant shippers, one appears at face value to be effective deterring hostage taking and denial of entry to the cabin area by which pirates can gain control of the ship. The hardening of a ship’s cabin by installing bulletproof components creating what is known as citadels has proven successful at keeping the crew safe and delaying the pirates while an armed response is mustered.  Adding remote control to these citadels would allow the ship’s captain to maneuver the ship from the relative safety of this secure cabin or relinquish control to an off-ship location via GPS link-up.

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