Samho Jewelry: "No! No! Not a sixpence!"

USNI Proceedings Magazine - December 2010

The reality is that Somali pirates actually pirated just 48 ships out of the roughly 33,000 that passed through that area in 2009, taking a total of 846 hostages—freeing all of them, without fail, as ransom negotiations were concluded. . Barbary pirates were successful most of the time; Somali pirates fail most of the time. The latter have a success rate of around 25 percent, largely due to best practices by the merchant ships themselves. Barbary pirates put general commerce in their region of operation in peril. They successfully pirated a significant amount of merchant tonnage; every single merchantman was vulnerable to attack. Somali pirates have attacked less than one third of 1 percent of traffic in their area of operation, and most ships of the type that carry international commerce are not vulnerable to Somali pirates at all.
Today our foreign commerce is carried largely on foreign-flagged ships—just about 2 percent (or less) moving on U.S. vessels. We are completely dependent on foreign-flagged tankers for oil imports, as there are no U.S.-flagged tankers—for either crude or product—in the true foreign commerce of the United States. The same goes for bulkers used in the export of our agricultural products. The total foreign-going, U.S.-flagged fleet is down to about 100 ships, and most of those are not really in the foreign commerce of the United States. (Pinckney's supposed retort, "Millions for defense, sir, but not one cent for tribute," is the origin of the famed shibboleth, although the words were NOT his. Pinckney did, however, exclaim at one point in the conversations: "No! No! Not a sixpence!")"
By Stephen M. Carmel, senior vice president with Maersk Line,

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