WL says these Somali pirates are a rough breed: they're typically fisherman and are familiar with the environment of conflict. It's an amazing athletic feat. (What do you mean?) Climbing the side of a ship like that and getting onto it, it's difficult, these are not small ships. (What happens when a pirate boards a ship?) They typically assemble a crew in their quarters or somewhere convenient at gunpoint and they make them behave, they make them handover what money they have. Then they take them to their enclaves and then they negotiate with the owners of the ship. The owners are willing to pay and in the end the pirates walk away with a significant amount of money, up to a couple million dollars of cash. They prefer U.S. dollars to Euros and will want certain years, they're concerned about counterfeit money, they're sophisticated. (Is this more comparable to a mugging or a long term kidnapping?) Somewhere in between, but it's similar to street crime but also less dangerous. They're not inclined to hurt or kill people, they just want money. This is not the case in southeast Asia, where piracy is more violent and more dangerous, the South China Sea, and also in Thailand and Vietnam. Those pirates look for the cargo which they then sell on the black markets. (Have the pirates and a crew of a ship ever been in cahoots?) Some pirates will put people on board the ship in advance. For the most part the pirates and crews are not in cahoots. But the instances of smuggling are very real and many crews have been involved in questionable activities. Many shippers will go to Somalia to do their dirty work and the shipping industry is very competitive. (In terms of who the people are who operate these ships, what's the broader perspective?) The shipping industry as a whole has long been liberated fro the constraints of law and nationality. It's driven by financial concerns and it is very efficient in the view of a global economy. If the cheap movement of goods, then the shipping industry as it's currently constructed is good. But they also contribute to environmental pollution.