Many ships unwilling to wait for warship-escorted convoys now use a detachment of 4 or 5 armed guards as they transit pirate high-risk areas.
At the moment there's a booming market in security guards for merchant ships plying the waters off Somalia and adjacent areas (Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, western Indian Ocean, Straits of Hormuz). An on-board security detachment will cost them about $40,000 for the short trip through pirate infested waters.
According to industry insiders 'Security Page', it's not just the armed former soldiers and marines now riding on the most choice targets that scare off the pirates but also all the dozens of boats (the size of seagoing fishing boats) that ferry the armed guards between African and Arabian ports to the ships that are to be guarded. The pirates have learned to keep clear of these boats as well, as they are full of heavily armed men willing to undertake some target practice before reaching their merchant ship and going on duty.
The rapid growth in the use of armed guards (who were on ten percent of large ships a year ago and some 70 percent now) and more aggressive operations by the international anti-pirate patrol have caused ship captures by pirates to decline by two-thirds this year. The reduction in ransom money has led to a collapse of the economic boom in and around the northern Somalia port towns where the pirates were based.
Source: Security Page