Saturday, April 18, 2009

To End Piracy, Stop Shippers Using "Flags of Convenience"

Today's Huffington Post reports that NATO defended a ship registered in the Marshall Islands against Somali pirates, freeing some 20 hostages. Which raises the question, why are NATO forces protecting non-NATO-flagged ships? It may be cheaper for the industry, but it is bad for global stability. Shippers should be forced to register their ships under the flags which can protect them at sea--and yes, pay for more expensive Western crews if need be. There is no reason for the profits of shipping to go to places like the Marshall Islands or Liberia, while the costs of protecting the fleets are borne by the US Navy and/or NATO. It means, simply, denying protection to ships from nations that are not protecting the ships--no more "free rides" until piracy is stamped out. In addition to denying shipping companies offshore registration in places like the Cayman Islands. Insurers would be instructed to pass the full cost of insurance to the non-Western shippers.

Bottom line: It is a national security issue to rebuild the American merchant navy at this time and give preference to US-Flag carriers in government policy. Bye-bye tax havens, bye-bye union- and regulation-busting foreign registration.

I'd hope that organized labor make this an issue, ASAP...