Why do modern-day pirates attack commercial ships?

As stories of modern-day pirate attacks become more prevalent in the news, our attorneys have heard a lot of questions from readers about what, exactly, motivates pirates to attack large commercial ships. Unfortunately, the answer is fairly simple—pirates are out to make money, and they expect to get bigger payoffs for taking down bigger ships.

In an attack on a commercial ship, modern-day pirates may be after:

  • The cargo – Millions of dollars in cargo are lost to pirates each year. Pirates may sell the cargo, hold it for ransom, or use it to support their criminal activities at sea.
  • The crew – It’s common for pirates to take hostages and negotiate huge sums for their return. Meanwhile, kidnapped crews are held in poor—and potentially dangerous—conditions.
  • The vessel – As modern-day pirates become more and more sophisticated, it’s not unusual for larger vessels to be hijacked and used as a base for pirate activity. 

While pirate attacks are a threat for any vessel that must travel through high-activity areas, large commercial ships are particularly at risk if they are poorly defended, as many pirate attacks are deterred when it becomes clear that a ship will not be easy to take.

If you have been involved in a pirate attack while working on a commercial vessel, reach out to our office today to learn more about your rights. Our attorneys have experience working with the crews who have suffered through pirate attacks and hostage situations, and we offer a completely free and confidential case review for injured crewmembers and their families. To learn more, call us today at 877-724-7800.