Somali pirates in 2011 attacked 237 boats in the oceans around northeast Africa. In 2014 there have been seven attacks, all failed.
Somali pirate attacks have dropped, from 45 in 2010 to 24 in 2011, but there's no evidence that more naval patrols and aggressive private security firms are actually keeping pirates ashore.
In the past, the US has asked other nations, such as Kenya, to handle cases involving Somali pirates. But some expect a different strategy this time.
In the past, pirates have been very reluctant to harm captives, but on Tuesday, four Americans taken hostage by Somali pirates were killed.
A US judge sentenced Somali pirate Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse to nearly 34 years in prison, citing a need to deter others. But the problem is getting to those who finance piracy operations.
After 388 days as prisoners of Somali pirates, Paul and Rachel Chandler were released Nov. 14. They were among 1,052 hostages taken in 2009, in addition to the 773 hostages taken in the first nine months of 2010, according to a recent report by the International Maritime Bureau. Click through the following slides to read about the Chandlers' ordeal and other high-profile captures.
A top admiral says US Navy armed patrols can't chase Somali pirates indefinitely. Other ways must be found to get to the source of piracy off the coast of Somalia.
The USS Nicholas returned fire on Somali pirates near the Seychelles, sinking an attacking boat, confiscating the mother ship, and apprehending five pirates. The US Navy has stepped up patrols in the Indian Ocean.