An article today by Wolfgang H. Thome of eTurboNews (ETN) raises two disturbing scenarios:

Somali Pirates - Balmoral Cruise Ship - Hijack - Attack1.  It is only a matter of time before Somali pirates hijack a cruise ship, and

2.  There are no plans in place to rescue the passengers when this happens.

The article is entitled "Somali Piracy – a Problem from Hell – What is the Naval Coalition Doing?" 

The article discusses the recent hijacking of a Saudi supertanker with 300,000 tons of crude oil by what Mr. Thome calls "Somali sea terrorists."  This recent attack occurred nearly a thousand miles off the coast of Somalia.  A so-called mother ship launched fast skiffs to intercept and capture the tanker. 

If Somali pirates can board a  supertanker on the high seas, there is no doubt that a cruise ship is Somali Pirates - Danger Zone - Hijacking Riskalso easy prey.  If pirates capture a cruise ship, there is the risk that they will execute passengers. 

What also disturbs the ETN correspondent is that no naval coalition vessels were dispatched to investigate, safeguard shipping and attack and capture the pirates.

When Mr. Thome asked officials what the naval forces would do should a passenger cruise ship fall into the hands of pirates, "there was little more than stunned silence."  He fears that it will take a major tragedy and loss of lives before there is a plan of how to deal with the sea terrorists. Until then, he concludes, "the problem from hell will persist."

I have discussed this issue in a prior blog entitled "Cruise Line Liability for Injuries to Passengers and Crew Members Caused by Pirate Attacks."  I have talked about pirate attacks on the Seabourn Spirit and the Balmoral cruise ships, and the failure of the cruise industry to take realistic steps to protect the passengers and crew. 

Neither of these unarmed cruise ships could match the pirates’ AK-47’s and rifles.  The Seaborn Somali Pirates - MSC Melody - Sitting Duck? Spirit used water hoses and the crew on the Balmoral brandished fake wooden rifles to try and scare off the pirates. 

When the MSC Melody cruise ship was attacked by pirates earlier this year, the first line of defense was the passengers’ throwing deck chairs to repel the pirates who were climbing up the side of the cruise ship.  In an article entitled "Cruise Passengers Fought off Pirates with Deckchairs," U.K.’s Telegraph reported how vacationing passengers fought off gun-wielding Somali pirates with deck chairs and tables when the pirates targeted their cruise ship near the Seychelles.

The cruise industry needs to get serious and provide the cruise ships with more than hoses, super-loud sound machines, and fake weapons. Otherwise, we will all be watching CNN broadcast the terrifying story of a dozen Somali pirates with automatic weapons and RPG’s holding a cruise ship hostage.



Balmoral cruise ship   MailOnline

Map          MailOnline Terror for 1,200 Britons as Somali Pirates with Rocket Launchers Attack Cruise Ship (Balmoral)

Melody cruise ship      Reuters via U.K. Telegraph

  • truthman

    This is the exact problems our gun control fanatics in the US never talk about. When you make it illegal to possess firearms, then only outlaws will have them, and then you find out how hard it is to defend yourself when the pirates are armed, yet the cruise ships cannot be armed. This is because the problem of the different countries that cruise ships stop at along their cruise route. While they are in international waters, they can have 50 cal machine guns all around their boat, yet once they enter a countries territorial waters, they also must follow that countries laws, and most countries do not allow foreign vessels to possess firearms, so nothing can be done till popular cruise locations govt.’s give waiver’s for cruise ships, private yachts,sailboats, etc. Just put in their waver that the weapon must remain on the boats at all times, and that would give cruisers the ability to defend themselves without having to break the law at every port they stop at, having to hide their weapons.

  • A Benton

    I note the comments regarding why cruise ships cannot have firearms on board as the laws of the countries they visit prohibit this. However when entering waters outside these countries’ territories where pirates are at risk, why can’t the shipping lines engage armed guards to board the ship and protect it while it sails through such troubled seas? The guards could be transported by craft to the ship and then disembark when the ship begins its entry into the respective country’s waters. Alternately I noted when the P&O Arcadia left the Panama Canal in January 2015, there were high powered craft sporting what appeared to be machine guns manned alternatively by 2-3 men circling the waters of that area. I don’t know whether these armed boats were employed by the Panama Canal authorities or if not by whom. It just made us passengers feel that much safer. If such boats were allowed to protect ships sailing through the Middle East, passengers might feel more confident of their security. I am considering a Holland America cruise in 2016 which sails to the UK from Singapore via the Suez, but am concerned about safety – especially given the presence of terrorists in the areas through which the ship sails.

  • K.S.

    Actually, you can hire armed security guards, there are quite a number of firms whom offer this service and a few that are recognized and approved, by i.e. Lloyds register. The cost for having a team onboard from Suez to Sri Lanka is very cheap consder of what they are guarding. And several times they have had to engage firing warning shots (the pirates that are trying to come alongside leaves when they see all the hardninging (razorwire, crew on look out, armed security guards) and ofc getting shot at (warning shots).
    ALso on another note, Seabourn Spirit passed thru the same area the following year. But this time they had a few armed militairies onboard, think it was french paratroopers. Armed with their arrault rifles and as well a couple of .50 cal HMG’s mounted at the railing aft, on both sides…guess what happened…qiuet and safe transit.