Piracy, or the act of theft of a vessel or other form of violence while at sea, is a crime that has been practiced for centuries. While piracy has been romanticised in films and literature and documented largely as a historical occurrence, modern day piracy still occurs today and is a risk that should be considered by all maritime workers.

Modern day piracy is particularly dangerous as acts of piracy and pirate gangs have become more and more sophisticated. Today, pirates are often armed with semi-automatic weapons and small, fast moving vessels and launch attacks on their unsuspecting targets under the cover of darkness. Some pirates even make use of weapons such as rocket propelled grenades and AK-47 assault rifles to take over a ship. Most vessels are not prepared for pirate attacks and therefore remain defenceless against these tyrants of the sea.

Modern day piracy remains a prime area of concern for governments and regulators of the marine industry, as well as anyone who works in the marine environment. Recent advances in maritime law and international criminal law has made some headway in decreasing piracy rates. However, crew members on all vessels also need to be aware of the risk of pirate attacks so that they can take measures to prevent these attacks by avoiding areas of high pirate activity. The waters off the coast of Somalia are particularly known to be a high risk area for pirate attacks.

Recent statistics show that piracy remains rife in the Somali region. In 2011, a total of 397 pirate attacks were reported to the Internal Chamber of Commerce Commercial Crime Services. Of these attacks, 223 occurred off the coast of Somalia. There were 39 successful hijackings in 2011, with 26 of these occurring off the coast of Somalia. There were a total of 15 deaths and 450 people were taken hostage as a result of pirate attacks in 2011.

It is important that marine workers are aware of the risk of pirate attacks as well as their legal rights if such an attack were to occur. If a crew member is injured in a pirate attack while on duty, then that worker may be able to seek compensation for their injuries from their employer or other parties under maritime law, in particular the Jones Act. However, the Jones Act may not be applicable as many pirate attacks take place in foreign waters, which may not be covered by the Act.


Fill out the form below for a Free Case Review with one of our Undefeated Maritime Lawyers

First Name



Describe Your Case

All communications are private and confidential. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.