Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How Should We Deal With Pirates?

I'm sure we are all aware of the news about the attacks on shipping off the coast off Africa by Somali pirates. There have been over 90 attacks this year and the pirates are currently holding 17 ships and more than 250 sailors.

It wasn't until I read this article Why Don't We Hang Pirates Any More? that I realized how the efforts of various navies to deal with this issue are hamstrung by the current laws on piracy. Current international law "enjoins naval ships from firing on suspected pirates". Apparently they are required to send over a boarding party first to inquire if they are in fact pirates. Hmmm. That sounds like it should work.

And if pirates are captured there is the problem of what to do with them. US law establishes a sentence of life in prison for a foreigner captured in the act of piracy, but only for attacks against US-flagged vessels, of which there are few these days. And the British foreign office has recently advised the Royal Navy not to take pirates prisoner lest they seek asylum in the UK. Yikes.

So it's not at all like the good old days when a "more robust attitude" to dealing with pirates prevailed. What do you think? How should we deal with pirates?


Anonymous said...

"Selective application of lead."

Feel free to adjust dosage as necessary.

Works for most vermin.


Litoralis said...

The answer is simple: privateers.

Anonymous said...


Like Blackwater?

The O'Sheas said...

Shave their bellies with a rusty razor!

Litoralis said...

Yes, private contractors like Blackwater.

Not bound by the rules of national navies and paid for by the shipping industry or their insurers.

O Docker said...

I think when folks with enough money have lost too much of it to pirates, they'll pay to get the laws changed. In the long run, it's cheaper for them to have the navies do the policing.

Of course there would be no pirates if we forced them to wear those puffy shirts.

Anonymous said...

US Navy ships of the Frigate, Destroyer, Crusiser types don't have brigs. Amphibs and larger do but they wouldn't hold more than a couple of prisoners. If pirates are captured alive they would have to be pretty quickly transferred to land but jurisdiction over crimes commited outside territorial waters is frequently unclear.

bonnie said...

Pirates in puffy shirts.

BVI's as antidote to drysuits.

Can we please get O Docker picked up for the new administration?

Thank you.

Tillerman said...

O Docker for Secretary of the Navy perhaps?

O Docker said...

I'm deeply honored to be considered.

Lasers and kayaks would immediately have right of way over all naval vessels.

CompassRose said...

Pirates who do not die resisting arrest should be given a fair trial.

Then hang them.

JP said...

The short term answer is send in the navy (as per every single one of the last 20 centuries)

The long term answer is political - good article on FT

See this article at the FT

The O'Sheas said...

... unless it's a gypsy pirate wench then you spank her like a red headed stepchild and withhold desert until she promises to be good.

I'm drinking beer on Wednesday afternoon and bloggmenting on my iPhone. Is that OK?

Anonymous said...

Gypsy Pirate Wenches?


O Docker said...

Geesh, I haven't been appointed yet - heck, I haven't even been nominated - and already I'm the victim of identity theft. I suspect someone who's been drinking beer and playing with his iPhone.

I'm confused. Are you allowing pirate wenches to operate your windlass, do you have gypsies under the floorboards, or is it just the gypsy in your sole?

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