How Do Pirates Board Ships?

How Do Pirates Board Ships?
Page content


High Seas piracy in Somalia is one of the gravest issues facing the world today. The modern day pirates, especially in the Somali waters, are not only fast but also equipped with high tech weapons and equipment that assist them in their piratical activities. However, it a matter of great wonderment as to how these pirates board gigantic ships that pass though the Somali waters?

Some of these ships are so huge that it is seems difficult to climb them even through their gangway, forget using any other method. So how do these pirates do this daunting task? Aren’t the pirates visible to the ship’s crew? Isn’t it nearly impossible to climb these huge ships from their sides? The following article will answer these questions and many more… questions which have always made everyone wonder about activities related to piracy.

Pirates Usually Attack at Night or Early Morning

Though armed with the most modern weaponry, the modern day pirates still use small motorized fishing boats which are fast and too small to get detected by the ship’s radar system. When these boats are used by the pirates, generally at night, they are literally invisible to the ship’s crew. The pirates wait in these small boats, under the darkness of night, and speed up as soon as they see a big ship coming their way.

From piracy attacks in the past, it is said that pirates generally attack the ship from its astern side, using ropes attached with hooks at one end. Some of the pirates also use long bamboos to attach the ropes with hooks on the ship’s side. Some pirates have also been seen using light ladders made out of wood and bamboo. The pirates are really fast with these activities and board the vessel way before the ship’s crew realizes and raises the alarm.

Although all the huge cargo and tanker vessels are basically too high to climb, when fully loaded, these vessels move quite low with a fairly high draught. This makes it even easier for the pirates to board the ships. Moreover, most of the piracy attacks mainly take place near to the shoreline using small speed boats. However, some of the recent piracy attacks have even taken place at a distance of three to four hundred nautical miles from the shore. In such cases, pirates use a bigger mother ship and anchor is near the sea route. When the targeted ship arrives, they use small power boats to attack the ship.


pirates from behind

Use of Modern Weapons

Present day pirates are using the best of modern technology to assist them in their piracy attacks. Equipped with the most modern and automatic weapons such as AK-47 rifles and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs), the pirates mercilessly and aimlessly fire on the targeted ship.

Though huge in size, the ships are both defenseless and helpless in front of these lethal weapons. In many piracy attacks in the past, the pirates have opened fire on the cargo ships to bring them to a halt. The master of the ship has no option other than slowing down the ship or stopping it, allowing the pirates to come on board.

pirates on board 3


Defenseless Ships, Defenseless Crew

If two dozen pirates attack a particular cargo ship from all the directions, using modern automatic vessels, the ship’s small crew has no other option other than to surrender to the pirates. Pirates are ruthless people with no value for human life. The captain of the ship wouldn’t take any decision that turns out harmful for his crew members and so will easily surrender to the pirates.

Moreover, the ships don’t have any kind of weapons on board, nor does the crew have any members trained for defending themselves. Also, as pirates generally board at night, when more than half of the crew is taking rest, it is really difficult to keep a close watch on all the areas of the ship by the small number of crew members who are on duty. This makes a merchant ship extremely vulnerable to piracy activities, especially in Somali waters.

Thus, technically, a merchant ship in Somali waters is a sitting duck, waiting to be hit by the pirates. Unless and until any substantial step is taken to fight the growing piracy activities in Somalia waters, merchant ships will always remain an easy target for the modern day pirates.

pirates firing

Somali Pirates

Image Credits

monsters and critics

the baumer files

the daily voice