Four years after the Maersk Alabama was taken by Somali pirates, the shipping and marine industry clearly still hasn’t learned any lessons. Or, perhaps, the industry continues to bury its head in the sand to save money at the risk of the health and safety of the men and women who man their ships and boats and oil rigs.
Yesterday, two U.S. mariners employed by Edison Chouest were taken captive by pirates off the coast of West Africa, an increasingly dangerous area of the world where the pirates tend to be more sophisticated, better armed, and more ruthless than in other areas of the globe.
I hope and pray for the safe return of these two mariners.
I am also angry. I am angry because apparently the industry won’t learn its lesson. Even after my law firm filed a massive lawsuit against the Danish shipping company Maersk for failing to protect the men of the Maersk Alabama, and even after the release of a movie starring Tom Hanks, the marine industry apparently still thinks of piracy as an “economic transaction.”
In other words, the industry seems to believe that rather than paying for proper and adequate security for the men and woman manning ships around the globe, it would rather use these crew members as bargaining chips in a larger, dirty economic game.
Essentially, the marine industry and the global insurance companies who insure the ships and boats that ply dangerous waters are making a risky bet with human lives.
Here’s the bet: The industry is betting that since only a few ships are actually captured by pirates, that rather than provide security for every single ship in dangerous waters they’d rather just pay ransom payments for a few unfortunate victims.
In other words, these industries are making economic bets with the health, safety, and even lives of U.S. marine workers.
This must stop. The only way to get the attention of these massive companies is for these companies to begin paying large sums of money to the men and women who are victims of these attacks along with their families, to make it more costly to face legal proceedings than pay for adequate security.
These companies don’t speak the same language you and I speak. Simply put, they speak--and they understand--only one thing: dollars. So the only way to get their attention is to hold them to account, and to speak their language, and to demand that they secure the men and women that are earning their dollars in the first place.
One would hope that the U.S. government would mandate security. Unfortunately, as we all know, the billion dollar corporations will do what they need to do to block or water down any effective regulation or law.