Most people view pirates as bandits dressed in funny outfits who sail around the world stealing treasure and stashing it on small, hidden islands. This may be a fun way to imagine the world, but modern day pirates are a real concern for shipping companies. Instead of stealing golden treasure, pirates commandeer ships with precious cargo and demand large ransoms from its owners. Chevron was the target of a recent attack off the coast of Nigeria. Although very little information has been released, it is known that armed men boarded the oil supply vessel and t the crew ookand vessel hostage. The International Maritime Bureau says that pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean reached record levels in the first nine months of the year. International Maritime Bureau Director Pottengal Mukendan reported that there were 352 attacks worldwide from January to September; however he notes that actual seizures have dropped from last year.
These attacks, mainly carried out by Somali pirates and outlaws from countries with dysfunctional government regimes, are costing the global shipping industry more than $9 billion each year through higher shipping costs and ransom payments. These costs are being passed on to businesses shipping the products, and eventually will threaten the supply of some resources - namely oil. To combat this issue many ships have taken independent steps to provide armed protection for their crews and vessels. Security firm G4S has started to provide armed protection services and proactive anti-pirate training while Britain has just passed a law allowing British ships to officially carry armed security. Some vessels have chosen to take a non-violent approach by using new technology such as skunk-smelling water and propeller-tangling ropes to thwart pirate attacks.
Many experts suggest that the only way to stop this problem is for vessel owners to stop paying ransoms. Somali pirates have found that this is a very lucrative business and the only way to deter their attacks is to make them uneconomical. While the US has already advised ship owners not to pay ransoms, complicated international laws have made it difficult to determine who is in charge of the region, making a coordinated defense almost impossible. It has become apparent that this is not only an economic danger, but people's lives are also on the line. Ship owners must make a decision between better protecting their ships or changing their shipping routes to avoid these regions.