Why Ships Are Robbed of More Than Cargo in Modern-Day Pirate Attacks

In the distant past, pirates sailed the seas in search of gold and gems, but modern-day pirates are often looking for more when they attack a vessel. Although it’s a disturbing trend, modern-day pirates frequently choose to take crewmembers hostage – anyone who must pass through high-risk waters should be aware of this very real danger.

Why Modern-Day Pirates Take Hostages

In many of the pirate incidents of the last few years, pirates have chosen to take hostages during attacks, sometimes even preferring hostages over a vessel’s cargo. But why? The answer is simply that hostages are often more lucrative than cargo.

Unfortunately, modern-day pirates have figured out that they can demand impossibly high ransoms for captives, often accruing more than they could have gotten in cargo and vessels combined, without the hassle of finding a buyer. While some hostages may be quickly released when it becomes clear that ransom won’t be forthcoming, other hostages—especially those from western ships—may be kept until a ransom can be obtained. Because the demands are so outlandish, and because ship owners and operators may be hesitant or unable to pay ransoms, hostages may be held for long periods while the terms of release are slowly negotiated.

Safety Isn’t Guaranteed While Crews Are Held for Ransom

While they are held by pirates, hostages may not have access to enough food, clean water, or medicine. They may be injured in the initial attack and not receive adequate medical attention until after release—which could be days or weeks later. Pirates could be unpredictable and violent, and they may be willing to injure or kill hostages who are not compliant with their demands. An additional risk is that pirates may become violent during any rescue attempts, injuring or killing hostages in the panic to avoid capture. 

If you were held hostage by pirates in the Gulf of Aden, Strait of Malacca, or elsewhere in the world, you need an ally who has real experience handling the unique legal challenges you face. For fast and confidential assistance, reach out to us today at 877-724-7800.

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Brian Beckcom
Highest Possible 10/10 AVVO ranking. Husband. Father. Fisherman.