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What about pirates?

Although piracy receives a lot of press, it is a relatively rare phenomenon. Pirates typically lurk off the shores of unstable regions, such as the southern coast of Africa. Seasteads can avoid most piracy risk by locating far away from these regions. Also, relative to other targets such as container ships, seasteads represent a poor risk/reward ratio to would-be pirates. Container ships carry mostly cargo and small crews. Seasteads carry relatively little valuable cargo and large (likely armed) populations. Seastead residents are likely to fight much harder than container ship crews, as they are defending their own homes and businesses, not a corporation’s insured property. Therefore, it will be wise for pirates to avoid seasteads in favor of easier prey.

Much piracy is small-scale theft—for example, of the 335 attacks reported in 2001, only 73 involved guns. Sixteen ships were hijacked, and 21 people killed (all but one in Asian waters). A sea-city will be much too large for this kind of crime. Even an individual seastead—a concrete tower—will be a much tougher target than a luxury yacht. Piracy against yachts is mainly notable for being vivid and exciting, and is rare enough that the ocean is still full of private pleasure craft. Still, we recommend that small seasteads avoid the pirate hot spots such as Southeast Asia and Somalia.

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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