A 79-year-old veteran of Norway’s shipping industry thinks the international community and his own country are being much too kind in their dealings with today’s sea pirates off Somalia. He wants to shoot them on the spot.
Jacob Stolt-Nielsen, patriarch of the Stolt-Nielsen shipping empire, wrote a commentary in newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) on Tuesday that pirates caught in international waters “always have been punished with death, most often executed on the spot.” He thinks the practice should be taken up again.
“Perhaps I was a bit tough in the commentary, but I’m just telling it like it is,” Stolt-Nielsen told DN. “The way to solve the pirate problem is to sink the pirates and their ships.”
Stolt-Nielsen said he’s been “shocked” over the “low priority” given to piracy by the Norwegian government, which has only sent one frigate to the area for a limited time, has blocked efforts to arm a vessel that was to be used to patrol waters off Somalia to protect its shipping fleet, and otherwise mostly hopes foreign aid to Somalia will help lure Somalians away from piracy. Stolt-Nielsen clearly thinks that response is far too mild.
“The only way to fight piracy is to hang the pirates,” he said. “The only language they understand is force.”
His son, Niels Stolt-Nielsen, earlier told DN that the company he now runs has begun having armed guards on board their vessels. A few other Norwegian shipowners are doing the same.
The Norwegian Shipowners Association has also harshly criticized the Norwegian government for failing to be tough enough on piracy, but it distanced itself from Stolt-Nielsen’s call for pirate executions. So did Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre on Tuesday, although Støre told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that he “understood the shipoweners’ frustration.”
There have been nearly 40 pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean so far this year alone, while more than 700 seafarers are being held hostage aboard dozens of ships from 20 nations. South Korean special forces managed to counter a pirate attack last month against a Norwegian ship that was on charter to a South Korean company.