Personal experience pushes Captain James K. Staples to Battle Back.
DATELINE: Norwell, Mass.
Modern day high seas piracy. It happens every day.
It may lack the Hollywood charm of Johnny Depp and the Pirates of the Caribbean, but the life and death drama is real and a pressing issue.
Captain James K. Staples, referred to by some members of the press as Captain Courageous, a three decade sea captain, Master Mariner and U.S. Merchant Marine, has launched a consulting service to combat high seas piracy. He has recently been utilized as an expert by CBS News, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, BBC and organizations such as Navy and Coast Guard. He has been a key note speaker for NATO and other security conferences.
Staples also served as spokesman for the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay, Mass. when fellow alum and friend Richie Phillips, Captain of the Maersk Alabama, a U.S.-flagged container ship was attacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean, was being held hostage in a recent high profile piracy incident. Now he is reaching out to the international maritime community to offer his expertise and insights.
Staples is no stranger to piracy threats. In addition to commiserating with other seasoned captains about the growing problem, he experienced unwanted guests approaching his own ship the Green Bay. After firing two shots from his Browning Hi Power 9 mm pistol over the offenders bow and witnessing a quick retreat by the suspects, Staples realized how close he came to a deadly situation.
“High seas piracy affects us all,” noted Staples. He elaborated, “From the hostages who get raped, beaten and murdered, to the shipping lines who get blackmailed, to the anxious families of crews throughout the world to consumers paying higher prices at Wal-Mart.”
Battling piracy can be traced back to 1797 when the USS Constitution, the oldest naval vessel in world still afloat, was launched and pressed into service fighting piracy along Africa’s Barbary Coast. Today Somalia is a Mecca for pirates and they have nearly crippled shipping in the Gulf of Aden. Piracy is also rampant from the Strait of Malacca and Indonesia to Venezuela, Nigeria and the Persian Gulf.
Smaller crews – down from 42 to 19 on most overseas voyages – and more desperate times have been contributing factors to the rise in piracy. Staples also notes that a lack of state of the art surveillance equipment (including thermal imaging and infrared cameras tied into radar) on ships puts honest seafarers at a disadvantage.
Staples addressed the common sense and controversial ways to combat piracy and to keep shipping crews and their cargo safe. From trained marksmen and anti-piracy teams onboard to better technology, he outlines methods of taking the seas back from organized pirate groups and rouges.
“Going to sea is dangerous enough. Fire, sinking, drowning – it just part of the challenge. Piracy takes that danger to a new level and it must be curtailed,” noted Staples.
For additional information about Captain James Staples, please visit his website www.OceanRiverLLC.