Check this out. Apparently, German-flagged freighters make about 1700 trips off the coast of Somalia in the Indian Ocean each year, and in the first half of 2011, there were 163 pirate attacks, 21 of them resulting in hijackings.
In other words, between 12-20% of German transits involve a pirate attack, and about 3% result in a captured ship. If this is at all representative of shipping as a whole, I would think that this would justify putting armed guards on at least a large portion of merchant ships, as obviously, the naval flotilla is not getting the job done.
And once again, my recommendation is that ship's armaments include Ma Deuce. Nothing says "I love you" to a pirate skinny like a few fifty caliber holes in their speedboat when their own weapons are still half a mile out of useful range, and finding the need to swim 300 miles home through shark-infested waters.
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