High Seas: Pay To Play

This is a case where the letter and spirit of the law aren’t the same.

Video (below) has been released of US Marines boarding a ship which had been captured by Somali pirates. The Marines just happened to be in the area when the ship was taken.

I suspect well armed, well trained Marines are pretty scary to pirates. They surrendered without a shot being fired!

All the press reports call the ship, the Magellan Star, a German owned vessel. Maybe it is. It is registered in Antigua and Barbuda. That’s a flag of convenience.

The term flag of convenience describes the business practice of registering a merchant ship in a sovereign state different from that of the ship’s owners, and flying that state’s civil ensign on the ship. Ships are registered under flags of convenience to reduce operating costs or avoid the regulations of the owner’s country. The closely-related term open registry is used to describe an organization that will register ships owned by foreign entities.

This is a case where the letter and spirit of the law aren’t the same. That’s why there’s not a single cruise ship sailing from the US mainland that’s US registered or even registered under what would seem a logical flag.

I don’t want to sound like a radical here, but maybe it’s time for the industrialized and militarized nations to stop putting their troops at risk for ship owners who set out to evade as much responsibility as is possible.

4 thoughts on “High Seas: Pay To Play”

  1. Geoff,

    I pretty much agree with that premise. However I will say this. As a former officer I can tell you that those Marines loved every minute of it.

  2. That’s the point Lou. They don’t have protection, so they will get hijacked. If they want protection they can register properly.

  3. The Marines were part of a multinational force patrolling the area. We are not going it alone there. Our Marines just happened to be closest. Geoff referred to this in his text but didn’t come out and say it. It is called the Combined Maritime Forces and Germany is a member.

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