Piracy on the High Seas Ensuring your Boat is Covered

“London, 24 January 2000 – The number of reported piracy attacks worldwide for 1999 rose nearly 40% compared with 1998 figures and almost tripled compared with 1991 according to the ICC International Maritime Bureau in London (IMB).”
This quote from the International Marine Security Web-site details an ever growing problem in both National and International waters.

A report conducted in the year 2000 showed that annual losses due to piracy on the high seas totaled over $200 million dollars. The report also details an increase in the use of weapons by modern day pirates, including guns and knives. Internationally a significant number of deaths, as well as serious injuries, are attributed to piracy each year.

There are 3 types of modern day pirate attacks.
-The most common type of attack happens when pirates board a boat or ship, and rob the crew. According to publicized statistics this type of attack will usually bring in about $20,000 US dollars for the pirates. These types of robberies usually involve between 6 and 8 “pirates” working together.
-The second type of attack is where the pirates board, rob the crew and also steal the ships cargo and goods. An attack of this type can involve 70 or more pirates, boarding a vessel all at the same time. These type of attacks occur most commonly in the early morning hours, between 1:00 and 6:00 am. This type of pirate attack can bring in over a million dollars, depending on the type of cargo the ship is carrying.
-The third type of piracy occurring most often at this time in history, is a type of modern day “con game.” Pirates having stolen or secured a ship, paint it, have it “temporarily registered” with authorities at one of a number of ports, and then wait for an unsuspecting victim. The “victim” is a business person who is in a hurry to ship his goods. The “pirates” offer to transport the cargo, but of course it never arrives at it’s destination. The same ship can be painted and repainted many times, and used at different ports of call, to repeat the scam again and again.

With all of this said, it should also be mentioned that it is assumed that only about 10% of pirate attacks are actually reported as such. Under-reporting of this type of crime is thought to be related to concern over increased insurance premiums, once such a crime is reported.

The International Chamber of Commerce established the London based “International Maritime Bureau” in 1981. The sole purpose of this organization is to fight piracy. If you are carrying any significant amount of goods or cargo overseas, it is a good idea to notify this organization of your travel plans, and to get advanced directives in regards to the safest routes, and the best times to travel.
The organization works together with others on the high seas, to send out advanced warnings, and to alert ships as to any suspected vessels that might be spotted.

Aside from having the best insurance coverage, which should cover all goods, cash, cargo, and the vessel itself, there are preventative measures you can take, to avoid being the victim of piracy. These include:
-Limiting the amount of cash you carry on board your vessel
-Setting up 24 hour look-outs, that can alert the captain of any suspected ships
-Keep in contact with a 24 hour radio watch, such as mentioned above

Hopefully you will never be the victim of a pirate attack. If this does happen, however, in order to prevent injury or loss of life to you or your crew, do not try to defend the vessel. Maintaining the highest level of insurance, appropriate for your business or pleasure ventures, will ensure that the majority of expenses and costs can be recouped.