Friday, October 17, 2008

Finally: A Solution to the Somali Pirate Problem

Governments around the world dither once again about what to do about unconventional threats, and once again, a private company offers a solution.

More than 70 ships have been attacked off the Somalian coast so far in 2008, with 11 ships and 200 crew still being held for ransom as of yesterday.

"The dramatic increase of pirate attacks on merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden has led to parallel cost increases for the shipping industry," Blackwater says in an October 16 statement.

"Shipping insurance rates have risen tenfold this year alone. With the added danger pay offered to crews willing to make the journey, pirate ransom demands that reach into the millions, and lengthy negotiations for hijacked ships, if left unaddressed the cost of the piracy boom to the shipping industry - and consumers buying their goods - will only increase."

"We have been contacted by ship owners who say they need our help in making sure those goods get to their destination safely," Blackwater Executive Vice President Bill Matthews says.

Blackwater says it's making its 183-foot ship, the McArthur (pictured), available to assist the shipping industry fight piracy. While some shippers arm their crews or hire private security to ride aboard their vessels, they can hire the McArthur "to accompany a ship and deploy helicopters to patrol the area" as "a safer option for the shipping industry."

The McArthur has a helicopter landing deck and a large helo fuel capacity; Blackwater's aviation affiliate can supply the helicopters, pilots and maintenance required to support escort missions.

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