between the devils and he deep blue sea
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
The maritime realm is particularly vast, covering 130 million square miles of earth surface with a complex lattice of territorial waters, estuaries, and river systems, which in many cases are poorly monitored but had proved to be the major and vital sea lanes of communications (SLOC) for world economy and militarily strategic for maritime nations in the area.
Some of the major sea lanes of communications which is the lifeline of global economy and trades are threatened by piracy, making merchant shipping in the particular region to be dangerous.
1.2.1 United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
Piracy as defined in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982 Article 101 consists of:
(a) any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed:
(i) on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft;
(ii) against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any State;
(b) any act of voluntary participation in the operation of a ship or of an aircraft with knowledge of facts making it a pirate ship or aircraft;
(c) any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act described in subparagraph (a) or (b).
1.2.2 International Maritime Organization (IMO)
IMO definition stated that attack inside territorial waters are not piracy while any attack outside are considered as piracy.
1.2.3 International Maritime Bureau (IMB)
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) defines piracy as an act of boarding any vessel with an intention to commit theft or any other crime, and with an intent or capacity to use force in furtherance of that act.
This definition thus covers actual and attempted attack for ship at berth, at anchor or at sea excluding petty theft unless they are armed. However this had it own problems where even common criminal armed with knife and boarding cross channel ferries becomes a de jure pirate. Also the IMB definition does not require that the act of piracy be committed for private ends. Attacks on ship for political or environmental reasons qualify as piracy which in certain circumstances even naval attacks could conceivably be deemed to be piracy under expanded definition.
Piracy is of note in international law as it is commonly held to represent the earliest invocation of the concept of universal jurisdiction. The crime of piracy is considered a breach of jus cogens, a conventional peremptory international norm that states must uphold. Those committing thefts on the high seas, inhibiting trade, and endangering maritime communication are considered by sovereign states to be hostis humani generis (enemies of humanity).
Modern piracy is violent, bloody and ruthless, and is made all the more fearsome because their victim are alone and defenseless. The main aim of piracy is often the theft of cash and valuable; from ship stores to crew personal effects and even the ship cargo or the ship itself with its crew murdered and the ship is subsequently sold. Act of piracy and armed robbery against ship are tremendous concern to IMO and to shipping in general. The fight to suppress this act had come in various measures adopted by IMO itself, flag states or major shipping companies.
Use of lethal weapons, asymmetrical non- conventional tactics and modern technology by pirates in conducting their operations had also become a major concern to shipping industries due to lack of capabilities possessed by merchant ships to thwarts the attackers.
1.3 TYPES OF PIRACY
It appears that two basic type of piracy developed alongside each other where the first is the opportunist whom take the opportunity of boarding a ship and leave with anything; ship stores, paints, metal and bronze equipment, ropes and wires etc; while the other are organized raiders which is much more violent and sinister having information concerning ship, their intended route and cargoes.
From these two elemental strands of pirate activity it is possible to further refine the definition and assign characteristics of the modus operandi of pirates.
Looking more closely it is possible to see four distinct classification of attack, ranging from fisherman taking a pot shot to passing vessel to highly organized crime gang taking entire vessel;
1. Opportunistic Crime (OC) : This is by far the most common form of piracy, as by its very nature does not require planning. If a target appears at a wrong place at a wrong time there is a risk of this type of attack. Weapon may play part in the raid but the whole ship is simply robbed without any recourse to violence. In some cases ship doesn’t even know such attacks has occurred until it become apparent that thing have gone missing (mooring ropes, wires, paints, etc). This small thefts often occurs within ports or port waters and complicate the wider issue of piracy.
2. Low Level Armed Robbery (LLAR) : This is widely acknowledge style of raid. Pirates use high speed craft and assortment of weaponry to board a vessel. The view is that the people who carry out such raids are very often simply petty criminal who view the ship as soft target. For this reason it would be safe to assume as long as the ship personnel do not act rashly they will not be in too much danger.
3. Medium Level Armed Assault and Robbery (MLAAR) : This type of attack is often meticulously planned. Experienced seafarers and a mixture of criminal are involved and together they form a formidable pirate gangs. They often use trawler or larger vessel as “mother ship” from which to launch attack using small high speed craft and they are heavily armed. Risk of injury is high or death for innocent seafarers involved. With certain degree of luck and with good management it may be possible to comply with the pirates demand with out putting to many of ship personnel at risk.
4. Major Criminal Hijack (MCHJ) : This is an operation performed by professional, which requires information, pinpoint accuracy and substantial resources. A vessel experiencing such an attack will be boarded by a large number of highly organized and heavily armed criminals. There are two outcomes to such raid. In the first instance the vessel may be held by pirates until another vessel can rendezvous and the ship cargo is transferred or the cargo will be kept onboard, the vessel will be given new identity and very often a new paint scheme. These ship is then trade under their new assumed identities as ‘phantom ships’. Sadly in many cases genuine ship crew are often disposed of in a violent manner, and replaced by hijacker`s own personnel.
1.4 METHOD OF ATTACKS
Attacks are normally but not always made at night and may generally be grouped under two heading:
1. Attack while ship alongside or at anchor.
2. Attack on ship while underway.
Pirates may board the ship either alongside/anchor or underway by climbing up mooring rope or anchor chain, or scaling the ship side from small boat using rigid ladder or ropes. This is common method use by pirates in almost every part of the world. Thieves also known to enter ship via gangways, bunkers and stores and pilot access points.
In the case of piracy at the Gulf of Aden, pirates have been known to use mother ship and operate as far as 500 nautical miles from the coast.