Piracy and Maritime Injury

Our law firm has experience handling a variety of maritime cases including piracy lawsuits in foreign waters. In recent years, there has been an increase or pirate activity in certain areas including Gulf of Aden, Somali Basin, Arabian Sea, Northern Indian Sea and the Red Sea. The most high risk area for pirate activity is the area bounded by the Suez and the Strait of Hormuz.

Best Management Practices and Ship Protection Measures

The Best Management Practices Guide has provided guidelines for dealing with piracy. In the event that the ship owners or captain know that they will be operating in an area where pirate operations are common, it is recommended that they register with the Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa (MSCHOA). Additionally, reporting with the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) office is critical because they can provide naval/military force services.

It is also suggested that ship protection measures be implemented that prevent pirates from boarding or entering the ship. This may involve altering the vessel. It is critical that crew members be able to escape the vessel and not be trapped. The Best Management Practices recommends several rules to avoid piracy:

  • Do not be alone – reporting to MSCHOA and UKMTO is critical
  • Do not be detected – research MSCHOA and UKMTO websites prior to crew boarding the ship and use navigation lights only
  • Do not be surprised – utilize radars, reporting measures and security protocols
  • Do not be vulnerable – make sure that ship protection measures are in place and prevent pirates from boarding
  • Do not be boarded – increase the vessel speed, place guard rails, water spray and foam measures, razor wire to prevent boarding and maneuver ship
  • Do not be controlled – ensure that pirates do not gain access to equipment or access routes and follow security protocols

The typical pirate attacks include two small high speed open boats that approach from either side of the stern. Pirates are typically armed with small fire arms and rocket propelled grenades. The most common frequency for the attack is in the early morning hours.

Piracy Attack Injuries

These practices and guidelines are important for preventing an attack. However, too often companies cut corners and fail to implement proper safety measures to protect crew members. These attacks can lead to serious physical and mental injuries. Many crew members who have been taken hostage by pirates have experienced post traumatic stress disorders and significant emotional distress. Others have experienced physical injuries including lacerations, head trauma and starvation.

If you have been a victim of one of these attacks, please contact one of our experienced maritime personal injury lawyers at Pierce | Skrabanek for a free consultation. We handle all cases on a contingency basis.