Sunday, April 06, 2008

Pirates, Ponant and maritime safety.

Pirates seize French yacht and 30 crew
Saturday Apr 5 09:30 AEDT

-- Le Ponant

A luxury yacht was overtaken by pirates off the coast of Somalia on Friday and the French government is still trying to rescue all 30 crew onboard.

Reading news like these worries me. J works on a small cruise ship in relatively safe waters. I mean Australasia Oceania is pretty safe compared to pirate infested waters off the coast of Somalia, Straits of Malacca and that bit between Pacific and Indian Ocean.

-- It's a huge bit.

He used to work on luxury yachts that travel all over the world from Europe, the Carribbean and all the way to Asia. By luxury yachts, I really do mean luxury yachts owned by some of the richest people in the world whose personal wealth could probably kill me if they decide to change all that riches into coins and pelt them at me. Millions smillions.

-- Freestyle it, anyone?

It is exciting to sail around the world, and I would love to do that. The whole sail-off-into-the-sunset thing. But the reality of pirate attack is very real. Way to put a damper of my happily-ever-after plans.

I used to think that the vessels carry firearms, locked away by the captain. The crew will be able to use them should they be under attack from pirates. Apparently lots of vessels don't do this anymore because of gun permits and lawsuits.

Say for example, some of these scoundrels will try to board the ship and perhaps take a crew or guests as hostage and threaten violence. If the crew shoots and injures him, the crew/captain/owner of the vessel will get lawsuits thrown at them for carrying firearms, causing grievous bodily harm with intent to kill, murder etc.

For the owners and captain, their reputation is at stake. No one wants to be prosecuted for shooting another guy. And owners will try to settle this out of court, paying said pirate large sums of money.

How is this fair? I don't get it. What about self-defence?

I mean, I'm no expert at maritime law but surely the crew and owner should be protected. I'm sure if a plane is hijacked, the crew will be celebrated as heroes when they subdue the hijackers. Even if the hijackers are injured/killed in the tussle.

-- They did it on Air Force One.

So why does the same set of laws not apply to boat crews?

Baltimore Sun article - Coalition watches for pirates of the Persian Gulf
Sydney Morning Herald - Pirates take 30 hostages
Piracy - Wikipedia entry

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