Somali pirates today seized an American-flagged container ship and took its 20 American crew members hostage. This is the first time Americans have been captured in a region that has been plagued by more than 50 pirate attacks on commercial ships this year. More than a dozen international naval vessels patrol the sea lanes off Somali to little affect – possibly because their methods of deterrence are so weak. A Canadian frigate stopped one suspected pirate attack last weekend by deploying a helicopter armed with a large stop sign. The pirates turned away but were left free to resume their attacks later.