By Steve Brand | Tuesday, December 17, 2019 | Features
Modern day pirates
Piracy remains one of the biggest crimes of the maritime industry. The impacts range from immense financial loss to causing physical harm to crew members. Piracy at sea is probably the most notorious marine crime and a major threat to maritime security.
Modern day piracy is a global issue with the main trouble spots being the waters off the Caribbean and Somalia.
The real pirates of the Caribbean
Attacks on yachts cruising the Caribbean are on the rise. Leisure sailors in the region have begun getting organised in order to resist the onslaught using modern technologies, including social media.
Today's pirates are armed with powerful, automatic weapons such as the AK-47. They posses fast dinghies and will stop at nothing to get what they want, including the torture of captive yacht crew. They have also been known to kidnap and ransom the captains of large ships.
The Caribbean is currently teeming with pirates, particularly in the waters around Antigua and Grenada. The more expensive the boat, the more determined these pirates are to attack.
Social media networks, such as Facebook have proved useful for leisure sailors to warn others of recent crimes and about waters where pirates are at their most active. However, the problem is still a serious one and is currently so common that marine security forces are finding it difficult to cope with the volume of piracy related crimes being committed.
– Pippa Turton, Miramar Yacht Charters, AntiguaLand-lubbers think of sailors as being alone on their boats and don't realise what a huge community we are and how many networks we have for dialogue, especially since the advent of things like Facebook.
CSSN tips for onboard safety
- Know before you go. Visit safetyandsecuritynet.com and subscribe to “alerts” to keep abreast with recent incidents in the area you plan to visit.
- Store electronic copies of passports, boat documents, credit cards, licences and equipment serial numbers where they can be accessed if your computer is stolen.
- Hide valuables in multiple unpredictable places. Have a “sacrificial stash” to surrender.
- Do not discuss departure plans with strangers on shore, or describe your yacht or its location to them.
- Consider travelling in a group, maintaining VHF or SSB radio contact on a regular schedule.
- Make a response plan including evasive manoeuvres, first aid kit, extinguishing fire, initiating a distress call, use of lights and flares, and communication with other vessels and local authorities.
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