Extra Preparations Fail to Prevent Cruise Ship Pirate Attack

Can anything really be done? I find myself mulling this question over and over in my mind as I read about the latest pirate attack against the Italian-registered cruise ship MSC Melody. With approximately 1,500 passengers and crew onboard, she was attacked by pirates using automatic weapons. Allegedly, the rapid gunfire was aimed at passengers and crew, as well as the ship herself.

The cruise line company had distanced itself from Somalia and changed its itinerary to increase passenger safety. What the travel reports failed to mention was that security measures went beyond a change in travel plans. MSC Cruises, owner of the MSC Melody, also placed private Israeli security teams onboard the ship to aid in her protection, should a piracy-attempt be made against the vessel.

I can only imagine the surprise of the attacking pirates when their automatic gunfire was returned from the ship! If I had been a passenger on that ship, I am sure I would have been frightened by the attack, but I also like to think the presence of the security force would have brought me at least some comfort.

So the question now stands: Should cruise lines and other ocean-going vessels have armed crew members onboard to guard against piracy? It has long been the policy among governments that ships’ crews not carry weapons on international seas. But one must wonder—what other options exist to protect ships, passengers, and crew?

Millions of dollars are being spent on ransom, which must somehow be recovered. This means higher shipping costs, which trickles down to higher product costs for consumers.  Part of the reason there has been so much willingness to pay ransoms has been due to the pirates’ no-kill policy. If they are now going to open fire, even on passenger cruise ships, can it be said that the no-kill policy is still in effect? It is unlikely.

What are your thoughts on the current pirate scares? Should ships be allowed to arm themselves on international waters? Please share your opinions with me.

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