A friend—a former sailor—recently shared some stories with me. He served on a Navy destroyer in support of two deployments. On both of them, he went to the same place: the Gulf of Aden. Most people do not know that this body of water is one of the most important shipping areas in the world. To learn about shipping laws of the sea one should think maritime lawyer Houston. Why is the Navy spending time in a shipping zone? The answer is simple: to combat piracy. My interest piqued once my friend mentioned piracy.
A Modern Crime
When I think pirates I think Pirates of the Caribbean. I am sure many people are the same way. Pirates are masters of plundering gold and other riches. However, today’s pirates have moved on from searching for gold. Now, they look for expensive-looking ships to hijack. They are after one thing: ransom money.
Weapons of Choice
Like most hijackers, pirates use weapons to gain the compliance of their victims. Pirates use a variety of weapons to include knives, guns, and even rocket-propelled grenade launchers. The Somali pirates all use similar tactics. They ride in small speedboats and rush to a ship. They then demand a ladder to be lowered to them. This is so the pirates can climb aboard the ship in support of their hijacking. Why would the crewmen lower the ladder to let the pirates climb up? Because if they don’t, the pirates would possibly sink the ship with their weapons.
A Call to Action
The captain of a vessel will transmit a distress signal at the first sign of piracy. My friend shared one time his fellow shipmates saved the day. A Korean oil tanker was held hostage by Somali pirates. The Navy destroyer quickly approached the tanker. This is when the negotiation takes place. The pirates will often speak through the captain over the radio. The Navy prefers showing force quickly. The sailors of the destroyer fired on and blew up the empty speedboats which had belonged to the pirates. At this point, the pirates usually surrender since they have no way to escape.
Captured and Tried
A team of armed sailors is lowered into Navy speedboats called RHIBs. They make their way to the hijacked ship. The pirates, who have surrendered, are led back to the Navy destroyer. They are taken custody and jailed on the Navy ship until the next time the ship docks in port. Eventually, the pirates stand trial and may go to prison in the United States. Maritime lawyer Houston has information on piracy litigation. I thanked my friend for sharing this story and look forward to more.