Piracy – an Historical Perspective. 55 th International Safety Seminar April 20, 2009. Hans Van Tilburg NOAA ONMS [email protected] “Views expressed herein do not represent official NOAA policy”. UNCLOS definition. Types of piracy.
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Piracy – an Historical Perspective
55th International Safety Seminar April 20, 2009
Hans Van Tilburg NOAA ONMS [email protected]
“Views expressed herein do not represent official NOAA policy”
Types of piracy
A universal human condition?
Approximately 3,500 years of documented violence (Dark Age of the Sea Peoples: 1250-1150 BC)
Greek Cilician Norsemen Ghazis Malabar Wako Chinese Bugis Buccaneers
“Theft, whether armed or not, is no disgrace, if committed at the expense of an enemy or foreign people…”
Obstacles to understanding pirates
Golden Age of European Piracy 1570-1680 (deep sea marauders)
Blackbeard Calico Jack Rackham Anne Bonny Mary Read Henry Morgan Charles Vane Henry Avery Captain KiddRed BeardBartholomew Roberts
Who are they today?
Pirate-infested waters: South China Sea
East and West African coast
South American coast
Strait of Malacca
Most attacks are the work of small bands (5-10 individuals) armed with knives or guns, in territorial waters while ships are anchored
The International Maritime Organization (IMO)
Piracy on the increase?
Somalia: (parasitic and episodic piracy)
What is the real threat?
Human:direct confrontation minimal (hostage-taking dominating attacks, merchant crews generally unharmed);
Economic:majority of loss through increases in vessel and cargo insurance premiums (not direct costs); Gulf of Aden carries some 22,000 vessels annually, around 8% of the world's trade, including more than 12% of the total volume of oil transported by sea
Political:potential for anti-state terrorism connection (has not really materialized)
Environmental:potential for major environmental disaster (grounded tankers, etc)
How did we stop it then?
Punishments for pirates:
hanging in irons
The Liburnian: Roman
How do we stop it now?
Naval response (short term):
United States Britain Canada France Germany Greece Netherlands Spain Pakistan India Russia Malaysia China
Maersk Alabama, April 8, 2009:
“It was not clear what the military crews would do when they got to the scene…”
Direct action – escalation?
American policy on anti-piracy measures, 2007
The Industry response:
"This is not a problem the group or the shipping industry can or should solve alone."
Losses to piracy in 1995:
$62M lost from worldwide from a commerce of $2 trillion
(29.3 cents per $10,000 shipped)
Range 300 m (more?)
Currently: 16-18 ships being held, estimated 300 crew members hostages
Average length of captivity: 53 days
Lessons from history
Has the sea effort in Somalia stopped the attacks? No
Find a way to assist Somalia’s government (?) in controlling its own coastline before the ransom money from piracy proves intrinsically beneficial…