Piracy at sea refers to the act of attacking ships, boats, or seafaring vessels with the intent of stealing goods or valuables, taking hostages for ransom, or causing harm to the crew and passengers. Piracy has been a longstanding issue throughout history, but modern piracy tends to occur in specific areas such as the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia, the Strait of Malacca, and in the waters of West Africa.
Piracy poses a serious threat to international shipping and trade, as well as the safety and security of seafarers. Pirates typically use small boats or skiffs armed with weapons such as machine guns or rocket-propelled grenades to board larger vessels. They may also use other tactics such as hijacking, kidnapping, or sabotaging ships.
To combat piracy, many countries have deployed naval forces and established international task forces to patrol and protect high-risk areas. Shipping companies have also taken measures to protect their vessels and crew, including the use of armed guards and implementing security protocols. However, piracy continues to be a problem, and its impact on the shipping industry and global economy remains significant. It is important for governments, organizations, and stakeholders to work together to find effective solutions to prevent and deter piracy at sea.
Evolution of Piracy at Sea: Pirates in Maritime 2020
The traditional image of pirates is often depicted as a middle-aged man with an eyepatch, a tricorn hat, and a hook instead of a hand, such as Captain Hook’s portrayal. However, the reality of modern-day pirates is far from the cartoonish depiction. Pirates remain a danger to anyone who comes within their territorial waters, and their sole purpose is to rob and steal from any ship that passes through.
Piracy has existed parallel to maritime transport and trade since ancient times, and it has been prevalent in various regions worldwide, including Europe, Southeast Asia, East Asia, South Asia, the Persian Gulf, Madagascar, the Canary Islands, North America, and the Caribbean Sea.
In the past, sea piracy consisted of stealing and trading any goods the pirates found on captured ships. However, modern pirates have evolved into criminals who are driven by profit and use advanced weapons and ammunition. They now engage in piracy of commercial goods, such as oil, drugs, expensive clothing, and even antique items. Pirates have even found ways to use superstitions to their advantage, with some pirate gangs using “delicate and delicate” women to infiltrate the ship’s crew and gain confidential information.
The evolution of sea pirates in the modern era has made it difficult for organizations such as the Regional Cooperation Agreement against Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCaAP) and other anti-piracy groups to curb maritime piracy.
Pirates in 2020 are a manifestation of growing capitalism, lack of job opportunities, and illiteracy. Modern pirates rely heavily on technology on board and use it to gain access to systems on the ship, thus gaining useful information. This has resulted in a global issue of maritime cybersecurity.
According to data from the first three months of 2020, there is a 24% increase in piracy due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has shut down many businesses and job opportunities worldwide, leaving people from lower financial structures struggling to make ends meet. The temptation of quick money has led many to choose the illegal path.
While eliminating or curbing piracy can prove challenging, several measures can reduce the impact of piracy on maritime logistics. These include strict laws and punishment against piracy, legalizing piracy, navigation systems that share pirate data, inbuilt radars, satellite warnings, self-defense training for the ship’s crew, and sending a “bodyguard” ship along with cargo ships or tankers for protection. Sting operations can also deter piracy in the long run.
Countries worldwide have created anti-piracy organizations and deployed military forces to combat naval terrorism, such as in Operation Sea Shield. Piracy remains a significant issue, but measures are being taken not only at the level of the ship’s crew or the management of a shipping company, but also by whole countries to improve the safety of sailors at sea.