SURVEYOR'S NOTEBOOK

Piracy Never Ends

By Rik van Hemmen

This May we decided to perform a heavy duty office cleaning and we literally opened every file drawer in the office and in our storage basement to see what had to go and what needed to stay.

I came across one file that was marked “fax junk.” Remember faxes and remember getting silly fax stuff from friends? This was one of the mother files. Next to all the silliness I came across a copy of this March 12, 1993 Journal of Commerce article:

This was 1993! I wonder if the amputation ever took place. Fortunately we are not in the piracy sentencing business, even though severe punishment has to be part of piracy control, but as a consulting firm we do deal with the effects of piracy.

We were involved with piracy issues in the Malacca straits and today we are involved in the Horn of Africa piracy problems. The article shows that the Horn of Africa piracy is far from a recent problem, but somehow it continues to be unresolved.

Just a few months ago Jim Dolan was in Oman to deal with the after effects of a VLCC that had been under pirate control for seven months. The ship’s crew had been confined to the wheelhouse except for occasional excursions to the engine room to keep the generator running. The entire accommodations blocks had been destroyed for God only knows what purposes and, besides the ransom that had been paid, the cost to restore the vessel to operation was tremendous. Most of all this does not even address the horrendous price the vessel’s crew paid in confinement and deprivation.

With movies like the “Pirates of the Caribbean” it is hard to believe that piracy is still a current issue, but the world has probably never been free from piracy.

Piracy is an ancient and complex problem and the cause of it is oddly related to shore based economics. Only where the shore provides cover to pirates can piracy exist. It is as if a random depraved shore intrudes upon world wide maritime trade. This was the case in the Caribbean, the US East Coast (yes, that was a pirate hot bed too!), the Barbary Coast and every other pirate hotbed before or after. Will piracy ever end? Not until conditions ashore make piracy economically unattractive. Until then seafarers will have to be on guard.

Follow us on Linked In by clicking the “Follow” button on our blog page.