Ever wonder why people today become pirates? It’s a dirty and dangerous business just like it’s been for centuries. The only guarantee is that if you do it long enough, you’ll either wind up caught and serve heavy time in a foreign prison or you’ll be dead.
No doubt men end up in the business for more than one reason. There’s the chance of quick cash much like a bank robber hoping to score it big. Then there’s the destitute person with nowhere to turn. Chasing down a ship carrying goods worth more money than you’ll see in ten lifetimes is more than a little appealing. When you grow up in poverty with no way to feed your family, the lure of piracy becomes irresistible.
Probably most casual observers would attribute the motivation of pirates to plain and simple greed. But a closer look would show this to be only partially true. Illegal fishing off the coast of Somalia has actually helped to nurture piracy there. Rob men of their ability to make a living, and even decent men can be driven to the unthinkable.
In a country where there is little government or one that is more corrupt than the people it serves, desperate men will not hesitate to take extreme measures. That’s why coming to solutions about piracy requires an understanding of individuals and their particular circumstances.
Look at the pirates and privateers of the 17th century Caribbean. Many began their career with the blessings of the king of England. When they were no longer needed, they became problematic. What the hell do you do with a sea of pirates you sanctioned for years to attack your enemies’ ships? For the17th century pirates, unemployment was not an option. Continue reading →
… There are millions of merchant marines in the world serving on ships of all sizes including freighters and oil tankers. The Philippines are the most represented in the field with over 700,000. Without the sacrifice of these men and women, world commerce would come to a halt. Wall Street may be the key to our financial institutions; trucks the key to shipping goods overland; but sailors manning the ships out on the sea are the glue that holds the world economy together.
… The average mariner can expect to be away from port for months at a time. It is probably the number one issue that professional mariners would change if they could. Some companies have started offering sailors year round contracts with a steady salary thus mollifying the sacrifice of months away from family. For most mariners, the issue is far from resolved.
… Though entry level mariners gain their education from the school of hard knocks, those interested in making a career of it must earn degrees or take courses to qualify themselves for better paying positions. In some countries, they must appear before boards whose members are sometimes described by sailors as being rude, unfair, and often outdated in their own knowledge. This makes advancing oneself difficult.
… Because of the economic climate today, many shipping companies are cutting back on ships and jobs. This leaves less good jobs for qualified mariners who work hard to promote themselves.
… Being a mariner is not a job for pansies. Hazards abound and death at sea, although not commonplace, happens. Dying thousands of miles from a loved one is difficult. Imagine the emotional and financial stress for family back home when they receive word their husband, father, or son has died at sea.
… One of the real hazards at sea is still from pirates. They often attack a ship, take what is of value including personal possessions of sailors, then leave. Those are the lucky ones. Other pirates, well-armed and ruthless, think nothing of brutalizing crew members. Still others take the crew as hostage and will not surrender them or the ship till a ransom of thousands of dollars has been paid.
… From Treasure Island and Pirates of the Caribbean, we have learned the common cause of death for mariners is pirates or drowning. It may surprise you to know that top causes of death are accidents. Some are from falling from great heights; others from falling overboard. One of the greatest hazards comes from confined space. Depending on the type of space, the danger could be from fire, electrocution, poisonous gasses, crushing from loose cargo, high temperatures, or injury from slipping on wet surfaces. And this list is far, far from definitive.