How pirates think

Journalists love surveys. Six out of ten men floss before sex is a great headline. So they are never tempted to look behind the survey outcome and ask what it was based on and if it has any significance at all. No-one likes to let facts get in the way of a good story.

So to Somali pirates. Evidently a survey of Somali pirates found that they think prison is the worst place, they attack ships because they are … Continue reading

Piracy forgotten again

When the Somali piracy was at its height the great navies of the world responded with half-hearted commitment of forces and no commitment at all of interest. World trade was threatened but the big navies, the US and the UK, were too busy posing about world war fighting and strategic interests to worry about the safety of merchant ships. When they sent ships it was reluctantly and despite the efforts of Hollywood to big up their action they have since … Continue reading

Paying pirates

Doing things right is hard. Standing by the rule of law is hard. Especially when some nasty piece of work profits from you doing things right.

Today we get news that the Danish government has compensated nine Somalis suspected of trying to hijack a Danish ship in 2013 because they were detained too long before being brought before a judge. Each of the pirates gets just over $3,000, which is nearly ten years’ salary in Somalia.

Last week it … Continue reading

The long and short of Somali piracy

Here’s a question. What is the difference between a journalist and an academic? On the evidence it’s all about efficiency, speed and clarity of what they deliver.

A journalist usually works alone, interviews as many sources as they can find, extracts the main points, simplifies and then writes an article quickly using the shortest and clearest words possible to explain what is going on.

Academics do things in groups. They interview the same or fewer sources than the journalists, take … Continue reading

Even more gratitude

Both seafarers and Somali pirates have good reason to be grateful to Shell and a group of other shipowners. They are doing what should have been done a long time ago, and done by governments. They are putting cash where it is needed to develop economic activity in the areas of Somalia where piracy festers.

The Joint Shipping Initiative, which includes Shell, BP, Maersk, Stena, NYK, MOL and “K” Line,  have just given $1.5 million to a United Nations … Continue reading

There’s gratitude

One free, thirty-seven to go. Hostages held by Somali pirates, that is. Seven from commercial ships, thirty unfortunate fishermen, and one lucky German-American journalist, Michael Scott Moore, free this week after German sources paid a reported $2m ransom.

Nice for Moore, and nicer for the Somali gangs in Galkayo, central Somalia, who captured him over two years ago while he was researching a book on piracy. You would think the hostage takers would be both grateful and happy now the … Continue reading

Understanding piracy

Here is a rare thing. A book which is required reading for everyone in shipping, everyone in a navy, everyone involved in trade and anyone who is simply curious to understand why piracy flourishes and what can be done about it. The New Pirates, by Andrew Palmer, is deeply researched and wide ranging, looking at the history and causes of modern piracy.

He shows the detail of attacks and the effects on those involved and offers possible solutions to … Continue reading

Living down the food chain

Most people in shipping have long suspected it but it was interesting to hear it confirmed in public. Navies regard counter-piracy operations as a bit beneath them, while they want to take all the credit for any success in containing piracy.

Yesterday the sun was shining on Cardiff, but it was hard to see because of the number of helicopters in the sky. They were busy ferrying heads of state around and being an obvious part of the huge security … Continue reading

Good news from Somalia?

Two conflicting pieces of news from Somalia. In the capital Mogadishu the second-ranking leader of Somalia’s pirate industry, Mohamed Garfanji, has been arrested on arms and piracy charges. That’s good news and evidence of the central government pushing out its disarmament campaign. Go north to the Somali region of Puntaland, where most of the piracy happens, and there is less good news. The self-elected government of Puntaland is reported to have cut ties with the central government because it disputes … Continue reading

It’s a steal

Piracy never goes away. It just pops up in different places.

Somalia is quieter now, and Horseed Media is reporting that Pop Idol has restarted to give young people a chance to sing. On the same page there are reports of the President of Puntland visiting remote regions which were pirate bases but no longer host what they describe as sea gangs. If the young men who were previously assaulting ships are now getting their kicks by belting … Continue reading