19Aug2017Headlines:

Art of Negotiating With Pirates

Pirates are a constant threat that the mariners face when at the sea. The pirates sometimes take hostages and there have been cases where some mariners even lost their lives. When a ship is caught by the pirates the situation is a tense one for the families of the mariner and the nation that the mariners belongs to, apart from the entire global community. We will now discuss about the pirates and the art of negotiating with marine pirates.

Negotiating with pirates

Negotiating with pirates

In 2008 in one of the worst cases of pirates attacking a ship and Ukrainian cargo ship was seized by the pirates. This incident happened about two hundred miles from the coast of Somalia. The scariest part was the fact that the cargo consisted of strategic elements of the highest order such tanks, rocket grenades and even anti-aircraft guns.

This made the situation tenser, and as expected, the pirates asked for a huge ransom. The ransom negotiations went on for a long four months. After that the pirates managed to get US$ 3 million, a huge amount by any standards.

The best part was that the weapons were intact and no lives were lost. Whenever there is a pirate attack on a ship and there is a hostage crisis. The most credit must go to the team that is negotiating between the two parties. People hardly know about how these negotiations are done and who does these negotiations. This is normally wrapped in a veil of secrecy, obviously due to the nature of risk so let us try to get a broad picture at least of what goes on behind the scenes in case a ship is hijacked.

As the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) is making new policies to ensure that the ships are not attacked by the pirates on the other hand every year the number of pirates is increasing and they are using better technology to fight the crew of the ship. In most of the cases the pirates if they manage to enter a ship take some money and belongings from the crew and escape. The incidents of taking hostages are there but they are lesser in number  and the cases of theft are more.

Rocket Launcher

Rocket Launcher

The first point that the crew is told about pirates is that they should not try to negotiate with the pirates. They must oblige to what they want and let them go. However, when there is a situation where the pirates attack a ship to take in hostages. In that case the crew or the captain of the ship has to negotiate.

The pirates take advantage of the hostage situation and they take control of the ship. In the case of the army ship of Ukraine the stakes were very high. The army could not let such sophisticated weapons to go into the hand of the pirates. This is exactly why the army was forced to pay the ransom demanded.

In some cases the pirates may threaten that they will kill the hostages. In such cases to the government has to oblige to the demands and pay the money that the pirates are demanding. The pirates are also allowed to take a free passage in situation like this. This is because in case they are not given a free passage the hostages may be harmed.

If we look at the recent cases of pirate attacks we will notice that even armed pirates at time attack ships only for monetary gain. If the captain of the ship obliges to their demand all is fine. In 2010 a ship from United Kingdom was attacked in the south China Sea about six armed men took control of the ship.

The captain of the ship obliged to their demands and gave them the cash that they wanted as a result they left the ship and did not hurt anyone. As the pirates were quite clear about what they wanted. There was no need for the captain of the ship to negotiate with them.

However there may be a situation when the pirates refuse to leave the ship even after gathering all the cash. They want to ensure that the ship is completely in their control this is when the hostage crisis arises. The first task for the captain of the ship before he tries negotiating with marine pirates is to know his enemies.

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Some pirates may be satisfied with cash and simple goods and some may want control of the ship. Depending on the nature of the pirates the captain of the ship must react. In Somalia region most pirates attack ships for ransom, given the generally poor economic condition of the region and lack of employment and related factors.

Another important point that the captain must keep in mind is that if the pirates are not able to fulfill the desire that they have attacked the ship for the situation may go out of control and can even become very violent.

The crew of the ship at a time when a pirate attacks should be calm and they should follow the instructions that the captain is giving them. They should follow what they captain tells them. The crew must keep in mind that what they say and do is going to make a vital difference. Even actions speak volumes so the crew must not act in the spur of the moment and make things more difficult.

Some points that the master of the ship must keep in mind are that he should not try to be the hero. It is his duty to safeguard the crew members and the cargo. This is exactly why he has to be calm. If the pirates have entered the ship they should be given the feel that they are in control. If there is any wrong move the lives of the crew can be in major danger. The captain must try to make the pirates and his crew feel comfortable.

He must try to talk to the pirates and understand why exactly they have attacked the ship. This will help the captain to plan his next action. The captain must note the dress, the language and the communications of the pirates. He can also note the appearance and the other interesting points.

All these notes have to be mental ones. The captain may have to recall all these details to the investigators. A close watch at the pirates will also help the captain to negotiate with them and understand them better. The pirates maybe rude and they may insult the captain. However, he has to maintain the calm and be patient.

The crew on the other hand also plays a vital role in negotiating with marine pirates. The crew is mostly made aware of how they are supposed to deal with pirate attacks even before they go on a voyage. They are told to be extra careful when they approach a region that is known for the pirates.

They must be cooperative with the pirates. No one on the crew should show attitude and get into a situation of physical or verbal abuse. This may be a very bad situation otherwise. The crew has to follow the order of the captain. The captain is the one who does the negotiation.

Nevertheless, the crew has to cooperate with him else there will be trouble. The crew members should also observe the pirates closely so that they can recall the details to the investors later. The ransom situations at times can last for months this is exactly why the crew must make a routine for themselves and ensure that they find enough time to read and distract themselves so that they don’t get much affected by the presence of the pirates.

Making a routine also helps to ensure that both the parties are comfortable. The crew must be patient too and not lose temper easily. These points will definitely help the crisis situation.

These are the points that are very important for the art of negotiating with marine pirates. This is how the captain and the crew of the ship generally deal with a hostage situation.

Keeping calm is the essence. This can reduce the tension and also help the situation. With the policies of IMO the pirates and their attacks should reduce in the future. However, there are still some incidents of hostage crisis when these points can be very helpful to the crew.

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