As maritime lawyers, we are representing some of the crew members of the Maersk Alabama after the pirate attack last year. A shipping group is now calling for stronger action against piracy in the Indian Ocean.

The Chamber of Shipping in America says it is “upsetting” that many politicians, both in the US and foreign countries, limit their involvement in the piracy problem to their objections to ransom payments. The CSA says that it is “extraordinary” that nations today seem even less capable in the face of piracy than they were 2 centuries ago.  Currently, there are 20 ships being hostage by pirates across the world.  These impact more than 200 seamen, and their families. Last year more than 50 ships were attacked by pirates around the Horn of Africa, and more than 1,000 seamen were taken hostage.

Maritime safety experts continue to maintain that detection of possible attacks is the biggest defense against piracy. However, once in an attack is on, outrunning pirate ships and using flares can help minimize damage. Besides, use of water hoses and electric fencing and wire can also help keep pirates off vessels.

The Combined Maritime Forces continue to patrol high risk waters to protect merchant vessels. However, vessels taking part in the maritime task force can only be so effective. They may not be able to rush to the rescue of an attacked ship in time.  Therefore, it is advisable that ships have their own protective measures in place to ward off attacks and prevent pirates from taking vessels hostage. Armed security teams have been able to resist attacks in recent weeks.  Thwarting an attack is far from impossible. Better preparation, rerouting wherever necessary, and armed preparation can help fob attacks.

It’s important for seamen on a vessel attacked by pirates to understand that the attack was far from inevitable, and that they have a right to a safe vessel. The maritime lawyers at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers can help seamen with any questions they may have about their Jones Act rightsContact us at 1-(713) 364-0723 or email us at [email protected].