Sea Transportation: Pirates of the Persian Gulf


December 3, 2007: You don't hear much about piracy in the Persian Gulf, but there's actually quite a lot of it. However, it's not the spectacular "seize a ship and hold it for ransom" stuff you see off the coast of Somalia. Nor is it the kind where a bunch of gunmen in a speedboat come alongside a large merchant ship at night, scramble aboard and rob the crew, and grab all the portable electronics they can carry away. In the Persian Gulf, the pirates operate more like common thieves, looking for isolated fishing boats or small cargo craft, boarding them, and stealing the GPS , radio, cash, and anything else the crew might have. These are maritime muggings. The only warships out in international waters, where most of the robberies take place, are U.S. and NATO ships guarding the oil transport lanes, and offshore Iraqi oil facilities. So the fishermen try to stay as close to these warships as much as possible, secure in the knowledge that the pirates avoid these warships as much as possible. Thus you will often see warships slowly patrolling, out in the middle of the Persian Gulf, followed by a gaggle of fishing boats, trolling for fish, and protection from the pirates.




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