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Whilst governments hesitate, the market provides

Piracy in the Straits of Malacca has been a serious problem for many years now and shipping companies have grown tired of waiting for governments in the region to do something effective to stamp it out.


So they are hiring private companies to do it instead. Sounds like an exciting line of work.

29 comments to Whilst governments hesitate, the market provides

  • The Last Toryboy

    I see the old Commonwealth still counts for something – they only accept people who served in the military of the US or a Commonwealth country.

  • Winzeler

    They don’t have any openings right now, dang.

  • Kell

    Such a shame, I had been wanting to do that for nearly a year now. If only I had enough money and support to make a go of it myself… I’m sure I could gather up a crew of ne’erdowells at a pub and lead them out thousands of miles to fight pirates.

  • I have to say, that job sounds like it’d be boring as batshit for 99% of the time…probably pays well, though.

  • zmollusc

    Yoinks! Where will we get our W4r3z now?

    (somebody had to say it!)

  • konshtok

    this is going to escalate
    at least that is the traditional pattern
    since the pirates are unlikely to move into the exciting world of basket weaving they are more likely to band together in order to take out the protection
    this would mean more protection would be needed
    at some point some of the shipping companies would stop
    increasing the security and instead pay directly to the pirates while keeping the minimum security needed to make attacks more costly than the bribes
    getting money while doing nothing would mean that the pirates will get stronger which would mean they could extract higher bribes and so on and so forth

  • Kell

    Well, the Tsunami seemed to kick the pirates out of action for a little while at least. However, I’m not so sure it would necessarily escalate given the influx of private navies. The pirates, terrorists, whoever they may be, are the victims of *root causes*. The root cause, of course, is that they’re living, and are *pirates*.

    So, naturally, killing them and sinking their boats will go a long way towards curing these *root causes*. Unlike traditional terrorism and banditry, pirates need to own their own transportation. They are poor in the first place, and eventually they’ll run out of ships.

    Further, if the situation becomes such that their chosen profession is no longer viable, they can change their profession. The majority of these pirates are simply the bottom rung of their societies, and see piracy as an easy way to get paid. Remove that option, and the majority will likely turn to other sources of income.

    The number of, I suppose, “hardcore pirates” is actually quite low. Despite their being an article last year in Foreign Affairs, the actual threat terrorism poses through piracy is more of potential threat, rather than one currently active.

    While its true some of the pirates belong to groups such as the Tamil Tigers and various Islamic extremists, the majority are just poor scumbags. Remove the economic incentive, and the poor scumbags shall move elsewhere. Preferably to an area that doesn’t interrupt the shipping of oil.

  • Old Jack Tar

    konshtok, speaking from experience with that part of the world (spent a bit of my career in Singapore), I think you over-estimate them. If they do adapt and gang up, the solution is to find ways to increase armaments to keep making it too dangerous. Pirates do what they do because the risk/reward ratio makes it viable: kill enough of them and they head off to another part of the world and find some easier way to make a nefarious living. In many ways the real problem is the Malaysians are too proud to admit they cannot cope with the problem and are unwilling to let any other navy do it for them.

    However keep in mind that the S of Malacca is the prime target area for piracy because of the high target density, so if you drive them away from there, it is not likely that they can just reproduce the same problem elsewhere. For example trying the same game around Panama would bring the would-be pirates face to face with the USN, not something conducive to a long and profitable career.

  • Rather than pay protection money it would be better to have security carry RPGs and a couple of .50 calibre machine guns.The big ships could easily carry helicopter gunships.

  • Peter Melia

    Just follow the links in this article, look at the dates. For example, that fleet of 15 ships has been hidden for over a year now. Strange is it not. Could it perhaps be a case of security companies trying to drum up trade?

  • Keith

    Kell, count me in. Will fight for beer.

  • We have a sophisticated and proprietary system for ensuring the safe continuation of your business on the water

    Political correctness raises its gruesome head once again. If they mean Have Gun, Will Travel they should just say so.

  • Old Jack Tar

    Could it perhaps be a case of security companies trying to drum up trade?

    SoM piracy has been a well known problem for quite some time now, so no, I really don’t think they are just trying to drum up business, it is a legitimate problem.

  • Venus de Mile End

    I too wondered about the meaning of “proprietary” in this context. I assume they mean “proprietary” in terms of the techniques used by their employees, rather than any hardware that’s exclusive to them.

  • Verity

    Jack Tar says the Malaysians are too proud to admit they have a problem, but it’s a Singapore problem, too. Also, I have read of the problem in the New Straits Times for several years now, so they aren’t shy about admittingFor anyone who doesn’t know, the Straits of Malacca are between Singapore and Malaysia.

    That fellow in the photo looked IndonesianI have a feeling that most of the pirates are Indonesians who came to Malaysia to find work. The Malaysians aren’t giving out work passes like candy any more. I doubt whether they speak any English at all, so their sphere of piracy will be limited to Malaysia and Singapore, where Bahasa Indonesia is spoken universally. That’s my guess, anyway. Also, Thai pirates are a big problem in the area, and they are a violent, bloodthirsty bunch

  • Robert Alderson

    The Straits of Malacca are actually between Indonesia and Malaysia. The whole of that stretch of water is relatively shallow and crowded. You have a large number of vessels sailing slowly on predictable courses past the Indonesian coastline as they sail in, out or past Singapore. All of the points mentioned so far are valid but the biggest underlying cause is the inefficiency and corruption of the Indonesian state. There may be pirates operating out of Malaysia or even Singapore but they mostly operate out of Indonesia.

  • Aaaaaaaarrrrgggghhhh!


    I always find it deeply satisfying, to speak in the vernacular of pirates.

  • Verity

    I would wager a bet – no pirates out of closely controlled and closely observed Singapore, and probably not out of Malaysia either. Yes, Indonesian, from Sumatra. Someone could probably identify the origin of the pirate in the photo by his headgear.

  • Hank Scorpio

    Maybe I’m underestimating the pirates, but it would seem to me that a small contingent of mercenaries armed with night vision gear and say, Barrett 50 caliber sniper rifles, would be sufficient deterrent to piracy.

    Entire private navies just seem like overkill to me when mercenaries would do the trick just as well.

  • Robert Alderson

    Most piracy is small scale aimed at nothing more than emptying the ship’s safe of the few thousand dollars it might contain. Consequently, most vessel operators have decided that the cost of employing armed guards is not worthwhile. There is also a feeling that if a ship has armed guards then there most be something really worthwhile on board.

    A navy (whether private or not) is a more cost efficient way of eliminating pracy through patrols and inspections.

  • Nobody Important

    There are Pirates & Emperors.

  • I guess the “let’s tell them we’re orphans” trick wasn’t working.

    So how much venture capital does it take to start up a Pirate-Be-Gone?

  • The Wobbly Guy

    It is a problem for countries around the Malacca Straits, including my own country of Singapore. I can’t be sure, but I distinctly remember reading reports of prices of certain imported goods, especially oil, being driven up because of increased insurance on shipping due to increased piracy.

    Wonder what the effect of hiring private mercs for protection will do to prices… hopefully only a short term increase, then a decrease as pirates are deterred/killed off and insurance rates drop back down…

    As for pirates being based out of Singapore… we’re simply too small for that!


  • Julian Taylor

    Sounds like an eminently noble enterprise and BARS do seem as though they are carrying on the fine tradition started by James, Charles and Vyner Brooke, the ‘White Rajahs’ of Sarawak, and their long battle against the Malayo-Moslem and Dayak pirates.

  • Verity

    Any penalties – enquiries, etc – for killing a pirate? Or do they simply disappear into the Straits of Malacca and no one reports them missing?

  • Verity

    Wobbly – any idea about the ethnicity of the fellow in the photo? I thought he might be an indigenous Thai, but then, with the headgear and all, I thought he looked as though he may come from Sarawak, although that seems like an awfully long way to come.

  • Robert Alderson

    The legal position is quite clear, the laws of the vessel’s flag country apply. Of course, pirates are very unlikely to make a complaint about one of their number being killed.

  • rosignol

    I too wondered about the meaning of “proprietary” in this context. I assume they mean “proprietary” in terms of the techniques used by their employees, rather than any hardware that’s exclusive to them.

    Shooting the buggers is ‘proprietary’ now?

    Geez. Maybe this ‘patent’ thing really has gone too far…

  • Crap. I wish I was twenty years younger… no one wants to hire a bloodthirsty old bastard like me (talk about yer “age-ism”, I should sue).

    I’d even supply my own weapons and ammo. Hell, I’d supply an entire ship’s company with their own weapons and ammo…