Sunday, April 12, 2009

Piracy Tolerated By Shippers

photo courtesy of the US Navy

Today, the day that Captain Phillips has been rescued, brings home some startling allegations. We all read, just a few days ago articles alleging that when civilian crews carry weapons on board, insurers raise the rates so high it is more profitable to pay ransom than the hiked premiums. This arrangement, almost a partnership with pirates, is an outrage, and an abomination. Where have our guts and principles gone?
John Reinhart, CEO of Maersk associated himself with Captain Phillips, citing him as an American hero.Phillips is, Reinhart, a guy that put his crew at risk of a few gold coins, isn't!

Thomas Jefferson made history when as president, he sent the navy under Stephen Decatur into Tripoli harbor to burn the captured ship, USS Philadelphia. Shortly thereafter, he ordered US Marines to invade. This brought an end to piracy against the United States, by the Barbary Coast Pirates. Our country was in it's infancy, but while Europe cowered, we refused to be bullied by international criminals. The Marine Hymm starts out, "From the Halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli."

During World War two, all merchant ships flying the American flag had a marine gun crew on board for the purpose of shelling attacking Subs and/or aircraft of the Axis. More recently, we re-flagged many ships that transited the Persian Gulf. That was due to Iran sinking ultra-large tankers, while cruising during the Iraq-Iran war.

Shippers that previously had re-flagged vessels in other countries to get around the requirements of American crew, soon were standing in line to get back under the flag.
This isn't just about money, insurance rates or other considerations. Putting American Merchant Mariners in jeopardy for the purpose of saving money isn't acceptable.

One of two things have to happen, and if our new president has any cojones, this would be the time to show them. Either the US government underwrites the insurance for our shippers, or we force the insurers to accept trained private security with adequate weapons to ship as crew, or we do like during WW11 and ship US Marines or Seals on each and every US flagged ship who's course brings it into waters known to be pirate havens. That would also include areas around Singapore and Malaysia. After a while, we wouldn't even have to cover every ship. The pirates, after being blown out of the water a few times, would find other ways to make a living.

It is also alleged that many ships and crews are still under capture in Somalian ports. Our Navy isn't busy fighting any wars, currently, send them in with cooperation from other countries navies and clean these vipers nests out. It is time to man up and take care of business. The United states of America used to be widely know as a country with which you didn't screw around with their citizens while they visited other nations. That no longer is true and hasn't been true for many years. It is time to draw a line in the sand. Piracy on the high seas has been an International crime for hundreds of years. It's enforcement time.

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