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What about pirates?

Piracy gets a lot of reports in the press and is featured in movies, but it’s a relatively rare phenomenon when compared to land-based crime. According to the State of Maritime Piracy 2013 Report published by Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP), a project of the One Earth Future Foundation, a privately funded non-profit organization:

In East Africa, Somali pirates attacked 23 vessels in 2013, of which 4 were successful.

In the Gulf of Guinea off Western Africa, 100 vessels were attacked, with 56 successful.

In the entire Indian Ocean, 145 “suspicious approaches,” were reported with 8 exchanging fire.

Dryad Maritime Intelligence, a maritime operations company, confirms that “no vessel has ever been hijacked with an armed security team on board.” Seacurus, a marine insurance broker willing to pay kidnapping ransoms, says they cut insurance costs by up to 75 percent if ships employ private armed guards. Roughly two-thirds of ships carry private armed security personnel.

Pirates typically lurk offshore of unstable regions in the world, such as the Horn of Africa, the Gulf of Guinea, or between the 17,500 islands of Indonesia. Much has been made of the live global piracy map provided by the Commercial Crime Services, showing all piracy and armed robbery incidents reported in a year. But it doesn’t look as bad as the Spotcrime maps of the major city where the Seasteading Institute is located. These reveal scattered crime, mostly concentrated in bad neighborhoods, with a small percentage involving violence. When a global piracy map covering two-thirds of the earth’s surface can’t accumulate as many incidents as Spotcrime maps of American cities, we know we’re in relatively safe territory.

If danger within Pakistan, Iran, Yemen, and Somalia doesn’t make us fear all land everywhere, then danger off their coasts shouldn’t cause us to fear all oceans everywhere.

There are larger organized criminal groups involved in piracy that capture entire ships and their goods (often worth tens of millions of dollars). These groups have even been known to use forged documents to obtain a new load of cargo from legitimate shippers, and then steal it. It is worth noting that these groups specifically target container ships. This is not at all surprising, given that container ships only have a few crew and vast amounts of nicely boxed cargo. A cruise ship has fewer marketable goods, and many more people to handle. A cruise ship might have 100 times more passengers and crew per dollar of movable cargo than a container ship. A simple cost/benefit analysis suggests why pirates tend to focus on the latter.

Posted in: Seasteading Safety

Posted on January 20, 2012 at 1:59 am


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