How Has the Strategy of Pirates Changed over Time?

Topics: Piracy, William Kidd, Somalia Pages: 6 (2380 words) Published: April 10, 2012
How has the strategy of pirates changed over time?

The North and East coast of Africa are very well traveled waterways for the Global Maritime Shipping business. Learning about and working with one of these businesses was very eye opening to an unknown world. With every major industry there are upsides and downsides. When someone is placed in a new industry they are generally naïve to any downsides until they begin reading periodicals and researching every facet of the industry. When someone is introduced to the shipping industry they become conscious of a very scary and realistic way of life. Pirates still lived and prosper off the coast of Africa and instead of capturing gold and treasures, like Captain Jack Sparrow does in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series, they board multimillion dollar transport ships and luxury yachts. Working with a company called Ocean Rig there was very few issues with Pirates. However most recently on October 5th, seven Tanzanian pirates attempted to board a ship that Ocean Rig owns and has currently on its maiden voyage (first voyage out at sea) named, the Ocean Rig Poseidon. Tanzanian pirates fired on the ship with automatic rifles but they were soon thwarted by the Tanzanian navy and armed guards on the Ocean Rig Poseidon. How has the strategy of pirates changed over time? With the change in time pirates have adapted to new technologies and political realities in carrying out their work. In regards to technology they use new and improved navigation and weapon systems and new forms of transportation to adapt to changing times were governments begin arming merchant ships and modern day vessels. In regards to political realities many pirates have changed their methods to illegal fishing due to a reworked international maritime law.

Historian Lauren Benton, of New York University, researched and wrote a study on what turned men into pirates in the in the 1600s and the legality of such. During the 1600s it was difficult to tell pirates apart from a paid seaman. It was also difficult for someone to go aboard a ship and figure out if the ship was actually sailing for a country and had been given permission to do what it was setting out to do. Ships constantly flew flags based on what territory they were sailing in to be deemed a friendly vessel by onlookers. This is due to the fact that many pirates began as mutineers from their country and had decided to steal the ship they sailed on and reap the benefits of not paying tribute to anyone. To prevent a European country from losing a vessel and crew to these attractive propositions the legitimacy of their captains had to increase and they needed to be politically founded in their crew so the possibility of a mutinee would decrease. One such example that Historian Benton writes about was a British captain by the name of William Kidd. Kidd was commissioned “to capture pirates and French merchant ships”. Upon doing so he captured many ships which led to a bountiful bounty and an excess of wealth for him and his crew. He rewarded them with a similar reward that pirates want and they respected him for that thus creating a reason for them not to become mutineers and stop paying tribute to England. Benton discusses the turmoil this cause for Captain Kidd because he carried so many high value goods that the temptation was bound to get the better of him. This leads to a moral debate inside Captain Kidds’ head in which he can keep the goods for himself or sail back to England and return the goods to the people that commissioned him to sail off and capture merchant ships. This is only one example of the type of experience that could turn a loyal British citizen into a power hungry pirate.

Captain William Kidd was hung due to the outcome of a trial in which he pleaded guilty to two capital offenses of Piracy and Murder. Piracy is currently defined as “any illegal acts of violence or detention or any act of depredation, committed for private...
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