Modern Day Pirates

Modern Day Pirates

When you think of pirates, you likely imagine pirates from hundreds of years ago with striped pants and a scarf on their head. Did you know that modern day pirates still operate in some parts of the world? For example, off the coast of Africa, modern day pirates continue to carry out attacks on ships as those pirates of the past did. However, today’s pirates have technology and a modern approach to their operations. The main goal of today’s pirates are monetary gain, not to kill them as was common practice in the past. Here are five things to know about today’s modern day pirates.

Modern Day Piracy Peaked in 2011

Piracy has been on the decline in recent years, but reached a peak in 2011. During the first half of 2012, there were only 70 attacks on ships by Somali pirates which was less than half than the year before. Some reports indicate that the earnings per pirate ship average around $2.7 million which is divided amongst the pirates. On average, each individual pirate will receive between $30,000 and $75,000. When you look back at the last decade, you will see that hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom have exchanged hands. However, many ships have become increasingly aware to the threat of piracy, and have taken steps to add security measures to prevent a pirate attack.  

Financing a Pirate Voyage Is Not Costly   

Did you know that on average between three to five investors will finance a modern day pirate voyage. The investors will take around half of the final profits, and the rest will be divided among the ship’s crew. For the investors, this risky investment is actually a smart financial move because it costs less than $30,000 to run a pirate expedition including the cost to operate the pirate vessel.  Even smaller expeditions can cost as little as a few hundred dollars to execute their mission. Any ransom money obtained is usually then laundered through other countries or Somalia.

Community Support for Pirates

Local communities often support Somali pirates in their efforts in return for a share of the ransom. The ransom money they receive is usually invested into the local community to help improve local infrastructure, hospitals and public schools. A Somali pirate stock exchange was even created that allows investors to support pirates on their escapades by contributing weapons or other materials in return for a share of their earnings once the mission is concluded.

Technology Plays a Role in Modern Day Piracy

Unlike pirates of the past, today’s pirates are modern and have access to sophisticated technology. They now use GPS systems, satellite phones, night vision goggles and other equipment to help make their pirate expeditions successful. Even online resources such as blogs and other websites are regularly consulted to identify shipping routes and maps so the pirates can formulate a plan for how to intercept a particular ship.  

Pirates Use a Credit System

In addition to their earnings that are divided at the end of a voyage, pirates also use a debt and credit system during their voyages. For example, a popular drug that pirates use during their adventures is called qat. For any pirates who decide to imbibe in this vice, the amount used is tracked so it can be deducted from their earnings when the ransom is distributed. For pirates with little self control, some pirates may actually even end up in debt when a voyage is over and have to continue on another expedition in order to pay off their debt.  

In conclusion, modern day pirates are quite different than the pirates of the past. What part surprised you most about how modern day pirates operate?