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What to Do During a Pirate Attack

So far this year, there have been a recorded 202 pirate attacks against ships worldwide. Last year, there were 439 pirate attacks world-wide, so this year's number is expected to continually grow. In the last several months, pirate attacks have routinely made headlines. The region of the Horn of Africa is repeatedly in the news for pirate attacks.

There are few things scarier than being viciously attacked by pirates while on the open sea. While the U.S. Navy has repeatedly gone out on a limb to rescue victims of pirate attacks, the unwelcome reality is that not everybody is this lucky. Just recently, two Somali pirates were sentenced to life for the killing of four U.S. citizens. Somali pirates have been responsible for hijacking hundreds of ships over the past few years. They hijack a boat in order to receive ransoms from the boat owners- and they have received millions of dollars for these tactics.

Precautionary Tips

This begs the question, in the event of a pirate attack, what measures can you take that increase your chance of surviving? First of all, before even heading into pirate waters it is a good idea to take some precautionary measures:

  • Practice onboard training and drills in the event of a pirate attack before your voyage
  • Put barbed wire around your ship and in places like the gangway opening
  • Prepare fire hose
  • Shut and lock all openings of accommodation on open deck
  • Shut and lock all openings of engine and steering room from the open deck
  • Inform international maritime security center before you enter pirate waters
  • Keep a vigilant watch on all sides of the ship
  • Know where other merchant vessels are within the vicinity

If a Pirate Attack is Moments Away from Occurring

If a pirate attack is eminent:

  • Inform the nearest coastal security authority that pirates are approaching your ship
  • Increase the ship speed to the maximum RPM
  • Drive aggressively to create a wave and thwart the pirates
  • Stay low in order to avoid injury from pirate guns and launchers
  • If pirates get closer, use non-lethal weapons to hinder an attack
  • If pirates begin boarding, all the crew should gather into a safe room
  • Crew should follow any of the pirates' demands
  • Don't be aggressive in your interaction with the pirates

Vigilance is one of the best methods in protecting your ship against a pirate attack- pirates tend to sneak up and attack at dawn and dusk to avoid detection. If you can steer clear of "pirate hot spots," that is recommended too.

In the event of a pirate attack, it is also a good idea to notify the Navy, transmit Mayday signals or satellite messages as soon as possible. If the military is able to intervene, The Maritime Security Center recommends that crew members, "…keep low to the deck and cover head with both hands, with hands visible and empty." Some ship owners carry actual weapons as deterrents, but that is a difficult decision that is also a personal one. Keep in mind that non-lethal weapons can also intimidate and encourage the pirates to "pick on" a safer target.

Get Legal Help Now!

If another person's negligence led to the attack, you could be eligible to receive compensation. Few things are as horrifying and damaging as being the victim of a pirate attack that can leave you with flashbacks, continual fears, and affect your line of work. Contact our office to see if you have a claim under the Jones' Act and to learn what maritime laws could apply to your situation. We are prepared to give you the zealous representation you need and to assist you in moving forward with your life.

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