Piracy – The Truth Behind the Legend

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Most of us may still have a picture about pirates that seems just legendary, a piece of the distant past or even a creature of imagination.

Giving the most accurate definition of piracy is:

“the act of boarding any vessel with intent to commit theft or any other crime, and with an intent or capacity to use force in furtherance of that act”.

And yes, modern piracy still exists and is pretty serious!

In fact, it is once again on the rise. Hotspots are now the pathways of major trade routes, which are the Indian Ocean, East Africa and the Far East including the South China Sea, South America, and the Caribbean.

At present, pirates seem to be very active in Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, off the Somali coast, and in the Strait of Malacca.

According to some estimates, worldwide losses due to piracy can be as high as 13-16 billion US dollars per year.

Equipment of course could not be similar to what we had read in old books about pirates.

Definitely not what you should expect!  Didit Thamzil

Modern pirates

Own night-vision goggles, hold AK-47s, heavy machine guns, and rocket launchers. They navigate through waters with GPS devices and use speedboats equipped with heavy mortars to chase ships.

Many things changed, but the root of this problem seems to remain the same..

Main reason that always pushed people to Piracy, this so cruel business, was poverty.

Second main reason is the complete collapse of government law and order in the nations concerned.

No wonder why hotspots of piracy are deprived and depressed areas with no government control, no proper security system to suppress the anger and lawless behavior of crowds.

No wonder why people who take part in piracy are mostly impoverished men, who mostly feel that have nothing to lose but only to gain by this really dangerous occupation.

Pirates Surrender to Royal Marine Boarding Teams.Hopelessly surrounded and outgunned, Somalian pirates surrender to HMS Cumberland’s Royal Marines boarding team in the Gulf of Aden. Credits – Defence Images

Beyond the slightest doubt

The biggest impact of piracy is the threat it poses to human life, the crew’s.However, it has affected the whole society, since it also puts in great danger the world economy; by possibly losing cargo and by increasing the cost of transportation.

This is a choice shipping companies have no alternative but to make.Either pass through the risky paths of Somalia and Gulf of Aden-still pay substantial amounts of insurance premiums- or take option two and route your ship to travel weeks longer/use much more fuel to avoid piracy attacks.

image by – BBC News

Information like this should alert all and make piracy a worldwide issue to which every state should be involved.Showing a more bright side though, statistics show that there is low risk of falling victim of a pirate attack.

Piracy results to total annual losses estimated around 0.001- 0.002% of the total cargo value involved.  This amount could not be alarming. The same applies to the current piracy hotspot, the Horn of Africa from the Somali coast to the Gulf of Aden, through which about 16,000 ships pass each year.

Anti-piracy measures. The recent escalation in pirate attacks has highlighted the vulnerability of shipping off the coast of Somalia. Now many ships are taking their own precautions, using hi-tech equipment to keep pirates at bay. Credits, bbc.co.uk

Brief History

Piracy is a maritime phenomenon that never faded away; it has only evolved through the centuries.

  • 14th century BC: The first known pirate group, the Lukkans in Southeastern Turkey.
  • 10th century BC: Cretans, Greeks. Cretan cities were at time used as marketplaces for slaves captured by pirates.
  • 12th century:  A pirate-phenomenon named Eustace the Monk, the popular Black Monk would leave his mark here. Such a huge force in the English channel had he become, that both French and English kings hired him as a privateer against the other!
  • 15th century: Trades to the New World were the reason for a tremendous increase of piracy shoots having England targeting Spain. This soon became habit of the French and Dutch as well.
  • 17th century:  The widely known… The Caribbean Pirates based on Caribbean islands harass British and colonial ships.
  • 19th century:  Southeast Asia seems to lose control of piracy attacks
  • 20th century: Pirates based in Somalia terrorize cargo ships and yachtsmen in the Indian Ocean.

The file photo shows Somali pirates attacking a ship. Credits presstv

Feature Image – theworldweekly

Despina Rachi

Despina Rachi

Lives in Athens and works in the Maritime industry. Thrilled to be a part of Free Thinking inspirational team and share my thoughts with you:)
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