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The State of Piracy

The subject of piracy — real pirates attacking ships on the high seas — has come up more than a few times on this blog, notably with the guest posts of economist/pirate scholar Peter Leeson. His book on the subject, The Invisible Hook, will be published next month.
In the meantime, those of you looking for a pirate fix should check out this fascinating and topical article in Good. It’s by Ryan Hagen, who does a lot of Freakonomics research for us and is among those who contribute items to this blog under the byline “Freakonomics.”
The article has two main characters: Noel Choong, director of the Piracy Reporting Center in Kuala Lumpur, who functions as “a global 911 dispatcher” for hijacked ships; and John Dalby, who runs a U.K.-based company called Marine Risk Management, a sort of high-end mercenary outfit made up of former military personnel who specialize in recapturing hijacked ships:

Dalby’s team has at their disposal a small fleet of private jets, helicopters, amphibious marine craft, and a lot of firepower. But unlike some of the newer forces at work in antipiracy, Dalby says, discretion has always been the rule at Marine Risk Management. “When we started putting our act together, we very carefully vetted a lot of people from different backgrounds. And we had lots of applications from around the world — a lot of jarheads who wanted to just go in and kill people. We still get them. The only personnel we’ll take are ex-special forces. They don’t have this sort of gung-ho attitude. They are more stealthy and sneaky, and more calm.”