Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Argghh! TAMUG Expert Discusses 21st Century Pirates

Today when you think about pirates the first thing that might come to mind is Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean, Treasure Island, or even the Pittsburg Pirates. Modern pirates still hold many similarities to the personalities we know and recognize, according to Tom Oertling, professor in the Maritime Studies Program in the General Academics Department of Texas A&M University at Galveston.

Only in the 21st century, pirates have become high tech, driving high-powered speed boats and wielding rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns.

Surprisingly, these modern-day swashbucklers exist at a rate that could be surprising to many. “The number of pirate attacks has dramatically increased in recent years,” said Oertling. Figures from the International Chamber of Commerce show there have been more than 1,500 pirate attacks since 2008, with almost 450 occurring in 2010. There have been about 160 so far this year, the study shows.

As for today’s pirates, their methods of grabbing ships, crew and cargo have not changed much in the past 3,000 years. “Several hundred years ago, they used fast ships to overtake a prey and battled their way onboard,” says Oertling.  Although technology has advanced greatly since the beginning of piracy, the goal is still the same: to board the ship quickly.

“Piracy will continue until the cost of carrying out this trade is greater than they are willing to pay – in people, boats and equipment and time, such as time spent in prison.”
For more information about Texas A&M UniversityGalveston check out Stephen Curley’s new book Aggies by the Sea; or click here for the complete article by Mr. Oertling.

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