The Navy Vol_67_No_2 Apr 2005 - Navy League of Australia

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The Navy Vol_67_No_2 Apr 2005 - Navy League of Australia

PIRACYA Twenty First Century ProblemOn the RiseBy Paul JohnstoneIn the Twenty-First Century context, when someone mentions piracy almost immediately the idea ofthe theft of intellectual property, trademark and copyright violations come to mind. Unfortunately,the traditional use of the word in the context of maritime high jacking, kidnapping, murder and rape at seahas remerged alive and well within both Africa and Asia.PIRATES?The United Nations Law of the Sea defines piracy as‘violence on the high seas’ and ‘an incident beyond any states12 nautical mile territorial waters’. When piracy occurs interritorial waters it is referred to as sea robbery. The romanticnotion of a pirate or buccaneer such as the likable rougeplayed by Hollywood actor Errol Flynn is in reality nowherenear the real world truth.Modern-day maritime pirates can be divided into threekinds:• ‘Smaller’ pirates who simply rob the crew and thendepart. This usually occurs when the victim vessel is atanchor or at port.• Pirates who rob the crew and steal the cargo on board.• The third type of pirates take over the vessel, re-flag it,and then run a “phantom ship” which in turn, steals thecargo of anyone foolish enough to consign such goodsto it.Smaller pirates are usually only interested in the safe ofthe ship and the possessions of the crew (the safe of a shipsometimes contains a considerable amount of money to payport and payroll fees). The crews are most often left aloneand the ships are usually set adrift. Occasionally the ships aretaken as well and the crew is set adrift in a dolly. The ship isthen re-painted, re-named and re-registered, and sold.When the pirates are finished looting a ship they canusually escape fairly easily because they usually leave thecrew imprisoned or theyforce them off the shipbefore they leave. Piratescan also choose whichnation’s coastal watersthey will escape to.Some of the people inthe coastal villages andlocal towns of Indonesia,Malaysia or Singapore areeven sympathetic towardsthe arrival of pirates. InThe face of modern piracy. Gone arethe swords, eye patches, outlandishhats and swinging from the mainmast.Modern high seas pirates are nowarmed with grenade launchers and havethe ability to coordinate several otherpirate entities through two-way radios toswarm a target vessel and warn others ofmovements by the authorities.the Far East, where manyof these piracy attacksoccur, pirates have severalharbors to hide in andoperate from, where thelocals will protect them.The second andthird types of piratestend to be muchmore organized,‘professional’pirates. They areoften linked toother criminalorganization, onland which assistthem to carry outthe sale of thestolen goods andcargo, and assist inthe forging of cargodocumentation.Here is an exampleof the activities thesepirates undertake:1. The pirateslook for acommodity With a string of 40mm grenades around hisseller or chest and brandishing an AK-47 assault rifleshipping agent fitted with a grenade launcher this pirateresembles a terrorist more so than a high seaswith a letter thief. The use of such dangerous weapons hasof credit that caused many to believe that modern pirateshas almost have close links with terrorist groups.expired (thishappens regularly since the demand for shipping spaceexceeds that which is available).2. The pirates then offer the services of ‘their’ ship. (Thisis the ship that is stolen, re-painted, re-named, and reregistered).3. A temporary registration certificate is then acquiredthrough a registration office at a consulate. To get sucha certificate a bribe combined with verbal informationor some false and/or forged documents is necessary.This certificate provides the ship with an official (new)identity.4. The ship is loaded and the shipper receives his bill ofloading.5. The pirates then sail to a different port than theone named as the destination on the bill of loading.There they unload the cargo to a partner in crimeor an unsuspecting buyer and change the temporaryregistration certificate once again.The third type of pirates described involves sophisticatedorganisations of pirates who are able to steal at least $200million a year worth of cargo. Many of the ships are then22 VOL. 67 NO. 2 THE NAVY

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