With the capture this week of an Indian vessel off the coast of Somalia, pirates are now holding hostage at least 14 vessels and several hundred crew members. A British yachting couple recently joined them, with a $7 million price on their heads. A Greek cargo ship with Ukrainian sailors was ransomed earlier this month for $2.6 million after nine months of captivity. The pirates have netted about $50 million in ransom this year. Even so, combating piracy is not impossible. Rigorous patrolling by the US Fifth Fleet, European warships, and combined task force patrols from China, India, Pakistan, Turkey, and other nations have greatly reduced piracy encounters in the Gulf of Aden, where about 25,000 ships cruise annually. So has convoying, accompanied by members of the task force patrols, air surveillance with fixed-wing craft and drones, and more vigilance by the merchant vessels themselves.


Rotberg, Robert I. "Fighting Off the Somali Pirates." Boston Globe, December 16, 2009.