The recent dramatic high seas rescue of a merchant ship captain held hostage by Somali pirates stirred a public debate on whether cargo vessels should be armed. It also drew attention to the more than 1 million mariners who are essential in transporting 90 percent of the world’s traded goods, including humanitarian aid to needy countries. And it gave voice to the little-noticed chaplains who provide hospitality to mariners at ports in 126 countries.
The U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama was headed April 8 to Kenya with relief shipments from USAID, the World Food Program and other relief agencies when the ship was boarded by four pirates some 300 miles off Somalia. The crisis ended days later when U.S. Navy sharpshooters killed three of the pirates.