Thursday, June 11, 2009

Piracy; A Harvard Business Review Case?

If you read Peter Mello's blog, Sea Fever, you probably saw his post about the business of piracy. Peter's blog was an expansion of Scott Baldauf's piece in the Christian Science Monitor. Scott was able to gather insider information on Somali piracy and describes in vivid detail the business behind piracy. According to Baldouf, Somali pirates reportedly earned $80 million in ransom in 2008. The most profound statement Balauf makes is that Somali piracy, a multimillion dollar business, is worthy of a Harvard Business Review profile.

Somalia isn't the only piracy hotspot. The International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Center warns of piracy in Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Malacca Straights, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore Straights, Vietnam, Ghana, Nigeria, and Tanzania.

International Response

What is the international community doing about piracy? The United States Coast Guard has law enforcement detachments assigned to naval vessels and has successfully apprehended pirates. In fact, the Coast Guard recently issued a maritime security directive on piracy and testified (link to pdf) before Congress on anti piracy efforts. The International Maritime Organization has taken a strong stance against piracy as well. Even Secretary of State Clinton has weighed in on the piracy issue.

Pirates; Easy To Trick?

Almost everyone is familiar with the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama and subsequent stand off. Even more daring is the recent escape of a Nigerian sea going tugboat. David Axe wrote about the crew's efforts to fool their Somali captures on the blog War is Boring. Nobody said these pirates were sophisticated. Despite the lack of sophistication, however, some of the people Baldauf interviewed believe the pirates are getting support from outside Somalia.

How Does Piracy Affect Amver?

Amver vessels may be called upon to assist in pirate infested waters. Should they refuse to respond? Amver participants have the right to refuse if the master believes the vessel or crew may be in danger. Pirates have also been known to lure ships in with false distress calls. Despite these dangers we hope Amver participants will still be able to assist mariners in distress without jeopardizing their own crews or vessel.

Have you been the victim of a pirate attack?

Photo credit: Fotolia

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