November 24, 1:14 PM
Baltimore Political Buzz ExaminerJohn Stratemeyer
Got some interesting feedback on my previous article “Kudos to the Maersk Alabama.” One inferred that my knowledge of world affairs and the shipping industry in general is somewhat lacking. That may be, but no less than the limited scope of any other finite human being. Another said that the pirates are not to be classified as “terrorists” because they are plying one of the oldest businesses in the world, and also because they do not intend to sink ships. Isn’t that nice of them? One guy classified the pirates as “unfortunates.” Must be a “root causes” guy. Piracy is a legitimate business? Hmmm…
Let’s take this one at a time, shall we? It’s true that I have never served aboard a ship, and my working knowledge of the industry is limited. However, how much does one really need to know in order to comment on simple security measures? About the shipping industry: a ship is loaded with a cargo, which presumably carries a monetary value. The cargo is loaded onto the ship from a dock by longshoremen who are probably union members. The ship sails to its destination along designated shipping lanes, manned by a captain and a crew. When the ship docks at its destination, the cargo is off-loaded by more longshoremen onto trucks or trains for delivery to merchants who pay the shipping company for the goods which they have delivered. The company is paid for services rendered. Pretty simple.
As with any other business, shipping companies have overhead. The ships must be fueled and maintained, employees must be paid. There are insurance fees, licensing fees, and probably a million other concerns too numerous to detail in this short space. In short, we’re talking about running a business. It isn’t that complicated.
There are designated shipping lanes which ships use. They use them because they may be the shortest distance between point A and point B, maybe because of prevailing currents. Shipping lanes also offer a measure of security because more than one ship uses them at any given time. The crews, however, unlike the Maersk Alabama, are not generally protected by trained security teams.
Now, let’s talk about the “unfortunates.” Pirates are, by definition, nothing if not murderous thugs and bandits. Their targets are unarmed civilians, some of whom they have killed. They know that most of the cargo ships that they target do not have security teams aboard to offer resistance. That alone defines them as terrorists.
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