Without question, piracy off the soast of Somalia is a problem that is costing time, money, headaches and lives. As of right now there is really no end in sight. Many shipping companies are taking extreme measures, like re-routing their vessels around the Cape of Good Hope, in order to avoid the possibility of being hijacked. Broken down, this means that the costs associated with avoiding Gulf of Aden (i.e. fuel, daily charter rates, longer transit times of cargo) are less than the of the risk associated with a vessel being hijacked and held for ransom.
Last week we reported on the attempted hijacking of two cruise ships holding hundreds of passengers, one of which was even fired upon withing the UKMTO Transit Corridor. Now, one cruise line company is deciding to take measures to protect its civilian passengers from any harm. AFP reports:
The MS Columbus cruise ship will drop off its 246 passengers before the ship and some of its crew sail through the Gulf on Wednesday, the Hamburg-based company said in a statement, without saying exactly where they would disembark. It said the passengers would take a charter flight Wednesday to Dubai and spend three days at a five-star hotel waiting to rejoin the 150-meter (490-foot) vessel in the southern Oman port of Salalah for the remainder of a round-the-world tour that began in Italy.
The company said it was sending its passengers on the detour as a “precautionary measure,” given rampant piracy off the coast of lawless Somalia that recently has targeted cruise ships as well as commercial vessels, including a Saudi oil tanker and a Ukrainian ship carrying tanks and other weapons.
For this company, the costs of detouring the passengers through the area far out-weigh the risk of any harm or inconvenience done to them. Now void of any tourists, we will just have to see how the MS Columbus fares in the dangerous waters.
In fact, it would be interesting to see the analysis that these companies are doing before making the decision to avoid the area.