Stupid Pirate Tricks

Dateline: Horn of Africa -- A pair of Somali skiffs, crewed by AK-47-toting pirates, approach an apparent oil tanker in the night. After firing a few bursts, they demand the vessel surrender, only to discover their supposed prey is actually ... the flagship of the French expeditionary force.

"Oops ... D'oh!"
I suppose it was an easy mistake to make -- in addition to carrying the French flag off Somalia, the La Somme serves as a refueling vessel for the French task force. So yes, it does look a bit like a tanker. Plus, well, who knew France had a Navy? (I was under the impression they had scuttled it at Toulon.) Apparently not the poor, deluded pirates, who in hunting for a quick score, found themselves instead fleeing for their lives, in an hour-long chase that ended with five of them taken prisoner.

Could it really be this easy?
Back when the scourge of Somali piracy was making headlines in April, I spent a few columns exploring the companies offering solutions to the problem:

  • Raytheon (NYSE: RTN  ) , which builds a long-range, non-lethal "microwave" device to ward off undesireables.
  • Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT  ) and General Dynamics (NYSE: GD  ) , whose new Littoral Combat Ships are ideal for pursuing pirates close to shore.
  • Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) whose ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle is admirably suited to surveying a deep, blue sea.

The problem, of course, is that these are all hi-tech solutions to a low-tech problem: rifle-toters in rowboats. But as the La Somme incident suggests, there just might be an easier solution.

Playing possum
Thanks to the global recession, the Baltic Dry Index is down nearly 80% from its highs of last summer. Commercial shippers are cheap, and shares of DryShips (Nasdaq: DRYS  ) , Eagle Bulk Shipping (Nasdaq: EGLE  ) -- even Frontline (NYSE: FRO  ) are languishing.

So what if we were to help these companies out? Lease a few "decoy" vessels, float 'em off the Somali coast, crew 'em with SEALs, and allow Darwinian evolution to take its course as the dumber pirates thin out the herd? It's a thought ...

Foolish takeaway
All kidding aside, the La Somme incident reminds us that Somali piracy is headed back to the headlines. Pirates who were waiting out the Indian Ocean's monsoon season in recent months are back at work now -- and this year has already seen attacks top 2008's record level.

Expect more news on this front, more pressure to boost our naval presence off Somalia -- and perhaps, more profits for defense investors.

Are you looking for "a few good defense companies" for your portfolio? Check out Motley Fool Rule Breakers, where we're searching out options in everything from flying model airplanes, to bomb-proof trucks, to bulletproof soldiers. 30-day free trials are available on-demand.

Fool contributor Rich Smith owns shares of Boeing. General Dynamics is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (14)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On October 08, 2009, at 5:15 PM, foolishdoog wrote:

    what a great read thanks for the humor.

    on an aside, La Somme was probably named after the WW1 battle. Many casualties endured on both sides

  • Report this Comment On October 08, 2009, at 5:15 PM, foolishdoog wrote:

    what a great read thanks for the humor.

    on an aside, La Somme was probably named after the WW1 battle. Many casualties endured on both sides

  • Report this Comment On October 08, 2009, at 5:15 PM, foolishdoog wrote:

    what a great read thanks for the humor.

    on an aside, La Somme was probably named after the WW1 battle. Many casualties endured on both sides.

Add your comment.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 1003247, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 10/23/2014 9:26:34 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...


Advertisement