Richard Hicks, the ship’s cook on the U.S. flagged cargo ship, Maersk Alabama, that was hijacked by Somalia pirates on April 8, 2009 has filed suit against the shipowner and the operator alleging that they knowingly sent the ship into dangerous, pirate-infested waters without adequate security measures.
After the pirates boarded the ship, the crew was able to take one of the pirates hostage. The pirates also took Captain Richard Phillips hostage. The pirates subsequently promised to exchange Captain Phillips for the pirate hostage but reneged on the agreement after the crew returned the pirate and the pirates took Captain Phillips back to the lifeboat. The hostage situation ended when Nayy Seals oboard the U.S. destroyer Bainbridge simultaneously shot three pirates on the lifeboat to death while a fourth pirate was onboard the Bainbridge for medical treatment. Captain Phillips was freed, and the cargo ship proceeded on its voyage.
This is apparently the first time in nearly 200 years that the U.S. military has taken lethal action against pirates. However, rather than serve as a deterrent, pirate atacks have actuall increased off of Somalia.
Currently, merchant vessels do not carry weapons aboard but this is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately. There was a time when merchant vessels had a small armory aboard with weapons kept under lock and key kept by the Captain, but this is no longer the case.