10 Apr 2009

Why Don’t Cargo Ships Arm Themselves Against Pirates?

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Ed Stringham sends me this AP article discussing the downside to arming against pirates. Although I was rooting for the American crew–especially when I learned the chief security guy was named Murphy–I think it’s probably wisest to not escalate. E.g. even if he ends up OK, the captain was obviously in danger because of the American resistance, and a shipload of cargo is not worth a human life.

The pacifist in me says that even though it is fun and gets the blood pumping to say, “Let’s show those pirates who’s boss!!”, in reality this will only make future pirates more violent. You are not going to “win the war on piracy” by outgunning them.

I’m not saying ships should welcome them with open arms, just that I don’t think the solution to this is to arm the crews. And even though there are government regulations contributing to this outcome, note that it is the insurers too who are skeptical.

When I worked at a grocery store they told us not to be a hero if someone tried to steal food or hold up the cashiers. (Late night guys would load up on steaks and book out of the store. We were told not to tackle them or anything.)

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