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Modern Day Piracy

Piracy is a modern day phenomenon brought on by an endless quest for profit. Rather than the romantic stories of pirates from days long gone, these pirates currently terrorize ship captains with violence, particularly on the Gulf of Aden, the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca. Modern pirates tend to favor smaller, faster moving ships with small crews in order to out run, out maneuver, and quickly overpower a larger cargo vessel.

Since 1995, when modern piracy began making headlines as a major international threat to cargo vessels travelling along major trade routes, the International Maritime Bureau began keeping track of all pirate activity through statistical data and analysis. Though the international response to piracy has become more evident in the last several years, the amount of pirate activity has also grown over the last several years. Increases in piracy seem to be linked to political unrest, with pirates now targeting vessels carrying relief supplies and seemingly based in countries where the political unrest is at its highest, such as Somalia.

Pirates are also targeting vessels not just for the cargo that they carry but also for crew members’ personal belongings and the large amounts of cash that the ships carry for payroll and port fees. In areas such as the Strait of Malacca there are limited spaces for vessels to escape the pirates and there are also many different lagoons and inlets which allow for easy concealment of pirate ships and other vessels as well as hijacked vessels to which ransom demands have been sent to their respective home governments.

The practice of hijacking vessels and demanding ransom for their and their crew’s return has become more and more prevalent in the last few years. Unlike the pirate ships of the past, modern pirate ships are well equipped with professional crews and weapons designed to assist smaller crews of pirates in easily taking over larger vessels. The communicate through mobile satellite phones, they utilize modern speedboats which allow them to maneuver quickly and easily through open water, arriving and escaping easily.

In order to combat the threat of piracy in international waters, some governments, such as the Indian government, have deployed vessels to fight against the pirates. Others have dedicated forces to patrolling as much of the open water as possible along well known piracy prone areas as well as developed teams dedicated to combating piracy on-site. These teams often combat pirates in their element on the high seas by either being helicoptered in to the affected vessel or by using the pirates’ own tactics against them, employing the use of smaller motorboats to move through the water quickly.

The problem with combating piracy is that there is so much area through which a pirate attack can occur and there are also very often jurisdiction problems which occur when in open waters (Sen, 2008). The Strait of Malacca carries around forty percent of the world’s cargo vessels, which makes the somewhat confined space of the Strait a ripe ground for piracy. The Strait is very difficult to easily change direction and navigate out of for the larger cargo vessels, with the Strait narrowing at one point to just over a mile and a half wide.

The coves and inlets in the Strait also allow pirates ample spaces to hide and wait while looking for the best vessels to target to gain the most profit from their endeavors. Though the Strait has been long known for its piracy problems, the amount of attacks in the Strait have become nearly non-existent in the last two years due to the considerable amount of attention brought to the Strait. The Strait of Malacca has been the main focus of well coordinated and very concerted efforts on behalf of regional governments.

These efforts have been concentrated specifically on ridding the Strait of its pirate population by creating teams designed to combat the pirates. This effort seems to be paying off as there were only two attempted pirate attacks in the Strait of Malacca in 2008 (Schuman, 2009). Piracy is still a continuing problem in the Gulf of Aden where Somali pirates are still terrorizing the high seas. Though cooperation between various Southeast Asian governments has greatly reduced the amount of piracy in the area, there seems to be a bit of a vigilante approach to combating the piracy.

Many of the efforts designed in the Gulf of Aden to combat piracy are more dedicated to addressing an immediate problem rather than to preventing the piracy problems from occurring. While there has been much success in combating piracy in the Strait of Malacca in the last two years, the efforts in the Gulf of Aden still fall a bit short with cooperation between governments becoming more and more important to eradicating their similar problem.

The strategic efforts arranged by these governments are well planned but lack the larger scope that will be required to deter further pirate attacks. Several nations have sent warships to the Gulf of Aden in order to deter pirates from attacking cargo vessels travelling through the area (Valencia & Khalid, 2009). These same nations have also arranged an international anti-piracy initiative to further combat the problem and hopefully eradicate the problem of modern day pirates all over the world, making the seas safe for cargo vessels to travel through.

The piracy problems in the Gulf of Aden have also caused many of these same countries to adopt a type of code of conduct concerning how pirate attacks are addressed so that they can more easily ensure cooperation between various countries, cutting down drastically on the response time to such attacks. It is the hopes of many world nations that continued cooperation between governments and attention to the problem of piracy will dramatically reduce the amount of worldwide attacks in a minimal amount of time. Works Cited

Schuman, M. (2009, April 22). How the Strait of Malacca Purged Its Pirate Problem. Retrieved May 3, 2009, from Time: http://www. time. com/time/world/article/0,8599,1893032,00. html Sen, S. (2008, November 23). Terror at sea: A threat to maritime trade. Merinews, p. 21. Valencia, M. , & Khalid, N. (2009, February 16). The Somalia Multilateral Anti-Piracy Approach. Retrieved May 3, 2009, from Global Collaborative: http://www. globalcollab. org/Nautilus/australia/apsnet/policy-forum/2009/somalia-anti-piracy/

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