By Doug Brooks
Somali piracy vexed the international community for years. Billions of dollars were lost annually, prompting several countries to spend billions more stationing a multinational fleet of ships off the Horn of Africa. But the large naval vessels proved unsuitable for chasing small pirate skiffs across vast ocean expanses, and the legal complexities of processing the few captured pirates were daunting. As a result, the impact of the naval fleet was — and is — surprisingly limited.
In frustration, some shipping companies turned to private security companies (PSCs) to defend ships plying the waters off Somalia — and the PSCs have proven to be 100 percent effective in protecting cargo and crews. PSCs don’t necessarily man ships with squads of highly trained soldiers; instead, it doesn’t appear to matter if the ships are protected by former Navy Seals or by Bangladeshi farmers with guns. A display of weapons and some warning shots is typically enough to convince pirates to seek out ships that don’t have PSC protection.
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