PMSCs and the piracy threat

PMSCs looking to move into new markets with their services. 

Maritime Mercenaries or Innovative Defense? Private Security & The Evolving Piracy Threat

On Sept. 23, the United States joined ReCAAP, the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia. The move comes amidst deepening concern about sophisticated piracy attacks in and around the Strait of Malacca, the world’s most trafficked commercial waterway. In addition to growing involvement by governments, private security companies are also joining the effort to suppress Southeast Asian piracy. As John J. Pitney, Jr. and I argue in our new book Private Anti-Piracy Navies: How Warships for Hire are Changing Maritime Security, as pirates’ operations become more refined, so too will the private security schemes to defeat them.

When the epidemic of Somali piracy first grabbed the international spotlight in 2008, the shipping industry was caught flat-footed. Piracy was hardly new—to the contrary, it had periodically flourished off the Horn of Africa dating back at least 2,000 years. But what set Somali pirates apart from their counterparts elsewhere in the world was their business model. Instead of simply boarding ships and stealing valuables, these pirates hijacked even giant supertankers and sailed them back to warlord-controlled ports to wait for ransom. This innovation meant that the economic damage from a single attack was no longer just tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, but millions or tens of millions.

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