Monday, November 24, 2008

Piracy and Maine Merchant Marine

Last night (Sunday) I flew into Portland airport after a two week business trip. The person next to me seemed to be an interesting guy (fit, older, not too fancy a dresser) so I figured why not - take the chance and talk with him. It turns out he has been in the Merchant Marines for over twenty years. Seeing as I am in the security business our conversation turned to piracy and steps that can be done to combat it. He wants to allow Merchant Mariners to arm themselves with weapons to fight off the pirates. This is one of many solutions that can reduce the piracy problem. It was a coincidence that the Portland Press Herald ran a news article and posted two editorials on this very same subject just this morning.

This past year we have seen a tremendous increase in the number of acts of piracy - particularly in the waters off the coast of Kenya and Somalia. This past week a huge oil tanker was seized by pirates. These pirates chase down and board by force much larger slower ships. The pirates then hold the ship, cargo, passengers and crew for ransom. Sometimes they will steal what they can and disembark the ship to make their getaway - many times taking hostages with them. Attempts are being made to remedy the situation; however, the anti-piracy measures have not been robust enough to stop the ever-increasing incidents. The people of Maine, a state that provides many Merchant Mariners, has an interest in this vexing problem. Read a news article on this topic entitled "Maine mariners sail the pirate-filled seas", Portland Press Herald, November 24, 2008.

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