Rich Galen

According to the Wall Street Journal, about 66 ships have been attacked (and those 14 hijacked) since the beginning of the year. Let's act like shipping magnates and do the math.

Sunday was the 102nd day of the year. We'll use Friday so the arithmetic is easier. 100 days times 50 ships a day = 5,000 ships having sailed through the Gulf of Aden.

Sixty-six ships attacked out of 5,000 total passages means 1.32% of ships have been subject to having been hijacked.

Here's a comparison: There are about 250 million cars and light trucks on American roads. In 2007 there were 10.6 million accidents meaning about 4.22% of all passenger vehicles in America were involved in a wreck.

Your chances of being involved in an auto accident right here in the good old U. S. of A. is about three times the chances of a ship getting attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden.

I suspect that it has been an easy decision to pay the pirates ransom for the relatively rare ship which is actually hijacked rather than to hire armed guards to be aboard every ship going through the region.

There was a report that the pirates wanted $2 million for the captain. How much do you think it cost to have the U.S. Navy keeping tabs on that life boat for the past four days?

Ok, we couldn't - and wouldn't - have paid to ransom the captain, but that's why we're having this class: If you're going to engage in piracy, make it about the ship and not the people on board.

And take that stupid stuffed parrot off your shoulder.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at