When most people think about piracy on the open seas, they generally envision wooden ships with fluttering sails plying the waters of the Caribbean, epic swordfights, and of course Johnny Depp.
But these days the pirates wreaking havoc on international shipping lanes are Somalians cruising off the east coast of Africa in fishing ships and small motorboats, who use AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenades, grappling hooks and ladders to board enormous merchant ships to hold hostages for ransom.
That is, they used to wreak havoc doing that, but not so much anymore, once the merchant ships increasingly started hiring private security contractors armed with AR-15s and other weapons to defend against takeovers by pirates, according to an article from Reuters in 2013.
Take for example this older viral video that is believed to have been made during one such encounter in 2011 in which an American private security team defended a cargo ship from an attack by a pair of small Somali pirate vessels.
The man in charge of the group initially told the defenders to fire warning shots, but as he explained later to ABC News, those warning shots turned into a full-fledged engagement once the pirates attempted to return fire from their small boats.
The scourge of Somali pirates causing trouble in the Indian Ocean and off the coast of Africa seemed to reach a peak in 2011 but has been occurring with far less frequency in recent years, largely due to the armed security being positioned on the ships.
None of the ships thus equipped have ever been successfully assaulted by pirates, as the security units often include former special operations personnel and former Navy SEALS.
Hopefully this trend will continue and the threat of Somali pirates will be relegated to history alongside the infamous pirates of the Caribbean, as well as the Berber Muslim pirates who once plundered American merchant ships along the Ottoman Empire-controlled Barbary coast of North Africa, until the newly formed U.S. Marines showed up.
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