War is Boring: Shippers Mull Private Security against Somali Pirates

War is Boring: Shippers Mull Private Security against Somali Pirates

Just four months after the world's navies all but declared victory in their war on Somali pirates, hijackings have spiked. In the span of just one week in early January, sea bandits seized four large commercial vessels off the Somali coast. Captured vessels can be ransomed for several million dollars apiece.

Piracy's dramatic resurgence has accelerated a profound change of heart among the shipping companies whose vessels ply East African waters. No longer content to entrust their safety to naval forces, shippers are mulling the wide adoption of seaborne private soldiers -- in a word, mercenaries, either sailing aboard targeted ships or riding shotgun in their own armed escort vessels. Mercenaries are a potentially more effective, but politically risky, short-term solution to an escalating crisis.

There was just one hijacking in the Gulf of Aden between July and September last year, compared to 17 during the same period in 2008. That led NATO Commodore Steve Chick to label the piracy decline "a fact" last September. At the time Chick, a British navy officer, led one of several international flotillas assigned to interdict pirates.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.