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Modern Pirates

For use with Talking Point worksheets

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Modern Pirates

Postby TalkingPoint » Mon Dec 01, 2008 11:39 am

Modern Pirates

Why are pirates in the news?
Piracy has grabbed the headlines recently because a Saudi Arabian oil tanker called the ‘Sirius Star’ was captured by pirates from Somalia. The ship contains two million barrels of crude oil which is worth more than 100 million dollars. The 25 crew members have been taken hostage and the pirates are demanding a ransom of 25 million dollars for the return of the ship, the cargo and the crew.

What motivates Somali pirates in particular?
Although piracy is rife in other parts of the world (for example, the South China Sea) it has increased rapidly of the coast of Somalia in particular because Somalia is in such a state of chaos. More than 60 ships have been attacked by pirates, also known as buccaneers, in the Gulf of Aden this year. The country itself has been torn by tribal conflict for nearly two decades, since the fall of the Siad Barre regime in 1991. As a result there are no jobs as such and food is scarce.

How do the pirates attack a ship?
The strategy they employ involves basing themselves in a ‘mother ship’ which is equipped with state-of-the-art hi-tech equipment that helps them to locate a likely target. They then use smaller, high-speed boats to actually attack their quarry. The pirates are usually heavily armed with sub-machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, etc, though they rarely kill the target ship’s crew members. The pirates are experts at what they do and can attack, board and hijack a ship in less than 15 minutes, it has been claimed.

What can be done to tackle the problem?
A military response in the form of commando raids is one answer, but it carries serious risks: the hostages could be injured or killed in the ensuing battle. Another possibility would be to send in the United Nations in an attempt to keep the peace. Some suggest that it would be better to address the root cause – the political situation in Somalia itself. A strong Somali government might be able to deal with the underlying reasons for the poverty which drives people to steal in the first place. The question of how to stop the pirates is one which is currently occupying the minds of politicians the world over.


Quick Quiz: Read the clues below and write the solutions on a piece of paper. Then take the first letter of each answer and rearrange them to find the hidden word connected with this Talking Point.

1. The ship contains two million __________ of crude oil which is worth more than 100 million dollars.

2. The pirates are demanding a ransom of 25 million dollars for the return of the ship, the __________ and the __________.

3. Although piracy is __________ in other parts of the world (for example, the South China Sea) it has increased rapidly of the coast of Somalia in particular because Somalia is in such a state of chaos.

4. The country itself has been torn by tribal conflict for __________ two decades, since the fall of the Siad Barre regime in 1991

5. The strategy the pirates __________ involves basing themselves in a ‘mother ship’.

6. The pirates are usually heavily __________ with sub-machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, etc, though they rarely kill the target ship’s crew members.

7. The pirates are __________ at what they do and can attack, board and hijack a ship in less than 15 minutes, it has been claimed.

8. Another possibility would be to send in the __________ Nations in an attempt to keep the peace.
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