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Armed Mercenaries to Protect Corporate Interests At Sea
September 28, 2010 9:39 AM   Subscribe

Insurance companies are considering forming a "private navy" of quick-response boats, crewed by armed mercenaries, to protect Western shipping from attacks by so-called Somali pirates.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey (49 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Paging Neal Stephenson....
posted by delmoi at 9:45 AM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


I can see nothing going wrong with this.
posted by wcfields at 9:47 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is half awesome and half scary with a dash of anarcho-capitalism thrown in.
posted by reductiondesign at 9:48 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Last Argument of the Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group
posted by griphus at 9:49 AM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


the irony is when the Pirates use the loot they've gained to establish an Insurance Company.
posted by HuronBob at 9:51 AM on September 28, 2010 [11 favorites]


In the near future an insurance industry bailout will be exactly what it sounds like.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:52 AM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Time to buy stock in KBR!
posted by ghharr at 9:53 AM on September 28, 2010


It's times like this that Fark actually nails it. What could possibly go wrong?
posted by josher71 at 9:55 AM on September 28, 2010


It would be cheaper to just equip the commercial vessels with some of these (PDF).

Spy sappin' mah sentry!
posted by exogenous at 9:56 AM on September 28, 2010


Finally, a use for my letter of marque.
posted by stargell at 9:59 AM on September 28, 2010 [13 favorites]


And to think I was just re-reading Snow Crash and thinking how predictive it was (People using video-tape aside). Of course, we have nothing like the Street of course ....(tabs out, goes back to minecraft)
posted by The Whelk at 9:59 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Previously on AskMe...

Insurance companies are a lot more comfortable with some of the more radical loss control measures when professionals implement them than when insureds do them on their own. We generally don't trust our insureds to do things like accident prevention, fire prevention without professional help, and that goes double for anything remotely having to do with legal compliance (employment practices, taxation, etc.)

So while the insurance industry generally doesn't want shipping companies arming themselves, forming their own mercenary force would be a viable option.
posted by valkyryn at 10:01 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Are they going to issue Letters of Marque to go along with this? Can't they just park a couple of 28 gun frigates in Mogadishu Harbour?
posted by ecurtz at 10:01 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Which one is Johnny Depp?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:02 AM on September 28, 2010


Meanwhile...

More private contractors than soldiers were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent months, the first time in history that corporate casualties have outweighed military losses on America’s battlefields.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:02 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


@exogenous great link. "Training Requirements • 2 hours classroom training and 6 hours hands-on for competency"
posted by Shit Parade at 10:03 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


While the idea of a private navy is really creepy, there's really nothing "so-called" about these pirates. If you're using violence or the threat of violence to take hostages on the ocean, then you're a pirate and should be prosecuted accordingly.
posted by Aizkolari at 10:08 AM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


The world's battlefields, Joe Beese. Not America's. The world's.

Obviously you forgot about Poland.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:11 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you're using violence or the threat of violence to take hostages on the ocean, then you're a pirate...

That doesn't rhyme at all.
posted by griphus at 10:11 AM on September 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


Sorry, but Monty Python did it first, and better.
posted by tommasz at 10:15 AM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Obviously they need to hire ninjas.
posted by empath at 10:24 AM on September 28, 2010


The strategy that seems to work best so far is to get the crews (which usually aren't very big at all) into a room or hold that secures from the inside and then just wait for the Marines or some other military force. The pirates really, really don't want to have that fight, and they know it.

Outrunning the pirates doesn't seem very easy, but the crews seem to have enough time during an attack to get themselves to a single point in the ship. Seems a lot cheaper to fit ships with a panic room than most of these other measures.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:24 AM on September 28, 2010


Air Supply?
posted by etherist at 10:45 AM on September 28, 2010


You know why this is perfect? It cuts out the middle-man: you and me.

We don't have send our kids to fight bullshit wars in the name of some bullshit flag-wrapped ideal when the real objective is money. This way, the stated objective is the bottom line of an insurance company. Kind of beautiful in a way.
posted by victors at 10:58 AM on September 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm looking forward to the help wanted ads for claims adjustARRRRs.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 11:03 AM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


In Eve-Online it is common for freighters to have armed escorts.
posted by hellphish at 11:04 AM on September 28, 2010


I found this page a while back; now seems like a good time to share it:
International Maritime Bureau Live Piracy Map 2010 w/ incident reports (google map)
posted by SouthCNorthNY at 11:10 AM on September 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Insurance company, protection racket, call it whatever you want.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:13 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


In Eve-Online it is common for freighters to have armed escorts.

When the Somali pirates run a deep-cover two-year infiltration on Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group and then make off with all of their cash I'll be really impressed.
posted by GuyZero at 11:14 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


That piracy map is great. I am surprised that there have been no reports of piracy off the coasts of Northern Mexico. Seems with the drug wars there, you'd see some ships, with illicit of licit cargo, taken.
posted by Danf at 11:28 AM on September 28, 2010


If you're using violence or the threat of violence to take hostages on the ocean, then you're a pirate and should be prosecuted accordingly.

...unless you're the Navy. Or the Coast Guard. Or Border Patrol. Or the local police department. Or an insurance company, apparently.
posted by enn at 11:41 AM on September 28, 2010


You know, in thinking about it, I bet that being held for ransom by Somali pirates would count as "undue hardship" for the purposes of discharging student loans in bankruptcy.

Maybe I should sign up. Three years in an unlit cell in Puntland can't be that much worse than my current job...
posted by valkyryn at 11:45 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


...unless you're the Navy

FFS. None of those groups take hostages, and you know it.

I am surprised that there have been no reports of piracy off the coasts of Northern Mexico. Seems with the drug wars there, you'd see some ships, with illicit of licit cargo, taken.

Ships trafficking in illegal goods may be the target of attempts by other criminals to seize them by force, but "piracy" is generally only considered to be attempts to seize legitimate shipping. Seizures of goods by law enforcement are, by definition, not piracy.
posted by valkyryn at 11:48 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seems with the drug wars there, you'd see some ships, with illicit of licit cargo, taken.

For some reason, I don't think that those cargo owners will report their losses to the International Maritime Bureau...
posted by Skeptic at 11:48 AM on September 28, 2010


If this keeps up Canada is actually going to have to update our piracy laws. A Justice of the Peace once told me that they still specify the punishment for Piracy on the High Seas as hanging, one of 3 death penalties left on the books because it has not been used in so long...
posted by Canageek at 11:52 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Those, like Hari, who try to excuse Somali piracy, are being extremely naive. Yes, Somalia is a shithole, but this is mostly because of a culture where looting, hostage-taking and protection rackets have become acceptable on land. It is completely perverse to excuse the same behaviour, by the same groups of armed thugs, on the high seas, even if one was to take the reports of overfishing and nuclear waste dumping (somewhat difficult to verify, given the circumstances, although definitely not beyond the reach of organised crime) at face value.

Moreover, the Somali pirates are not poor urchins. They appear to have good relations themselves with foreign organized crime, and ransom payments are usually negotiated over shadowy London intermediaries, which may also be implicated in gathering intelligence for the pirates.
posted by Skeptic at 12:03 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, for the Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group to run a private navy is a bit of a return to their origins.
posted by Skeptic at 12:14 PM on September 28, 2010


How Somalia's Fishermen Became Pirates
posted by homunculus at 12:21 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Private navies versus Somali pirates?

All we need to do is slather everyone's boats with cameras, and we've got a reality TV show that will blow Deadliest Catch right out of the water.
posted by Relay at 12:26 PM on September 28, 2010


Isn't "armed mercenary" a bit redundant?

An unarmed mercenary would just be a consultant.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:39 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


"So-called" pirates?

I say, if you hijack a boat on the open sea, you are a pirate. There might be a heart-wrenching story behind the piracy, but I think Ariana Huffington has her head screwed on a bit crooked.
posted by Sukiari at 2:06 PM on September 28, 2010


Hey now. It was really, really wrong and morally indefensible for those SEALs to light up the pirates who were holding the Maersk Alabama's captain hostage. The right wing media said so. Those guys only died 'cause Obama's evil. Clearly, sympathy for pirates is a bipartisan issue of clear media consistency.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:23 PM on September 28, 2010


Insurance company, protection racket, call it whatever you want.

Monty Python did that one too.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 3:49 PM on September 28, 2010


This navy may not exist quite yet, but I am confident in predicting that, in twenty years, assholes in bars will claim to have been with it.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:20 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


In my brain, I'm mixing up the company formerly known as Blackwater and the old kids cartoon Pirates of Dark Water.
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:56 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


How come they don't hijack one of the ships with the nuclear waste on it? I'd think they could get a pretty penny for the ransom on that one.
posted by digsrus at 5:48 PM on September 28, 2010


We have essentially, private armies, we could get this private navy: could a private air force of some sort be far behind? I don't think there will beuch resisance to this private navy, but I see a slippery slope. They will no doubt clear out the pirates , that's fine, then what
(sorry for the partial post above fat fingered something Mods go ahead and remove the first one)
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 7:33 PM on September 28, 2010


We have essentially, private armies, we could get this private navy: could a private air force of some sort be far behind

Thing is, hardware issues aside, both armies and navies operate in spaces that don't require the explicit prior permission of national governments to enter. Airspace is pretty tightly regulated, and you can't go anywhere without the permission of air traffic control in every case. All three forces are going to have issues with their hardware, but once they've got it, a private army or navy can basically do its thing. A private air force would require intimate cooperation with the government, and I can't see the government being willing to bend over backward to enable that sort of thing.
posted by valkyryn at 3:14 AM on September 29, 2010


A private air force would require intimate cooperation with the government, and I can't see the government being willing to bend over backward to enable that sort of thing.

Blackwater already has an air force, which seems to consist of helicopters and transport planes in Iraq, and at least one turboprop ground-attack plane in Colombia.
posted by pompomtom at 9:05 PM on September 29, 2010


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