15 Reasons: Piracy Attack of a Ship is Different from Hijacking of an Aircraft

by OldSailor on June 4, 2008



We very often hear about piracy attack on ships and very few cases of hijacking of aircrafts. Why so ?

Piracy attack on ships are different from Hijacking of aircrafts. Though there are some similarities in both cases, the differences are more. For clarity, I prefer to use the term ‘piracy’ for ships and the term ‘hijacking’ for aircrafts.

Here are the similarities in Piracy and Hijacking:

  • Surprise element: In both the cases, there is no specific warning and we come to know only after the ship or aircraft is trapped.
  • Organized groups: In both the cases it is carried out by organized groups.
  • Use of compact,lethal weapons: Compact, lethal weapons find immediate applications in both the cases.

Here are the 15 differences in Piracy and Hijacking:

motive 1.Motive:

Piracy is a terrorist act to earn quick money.

In case of hijacking, it is a terrorist act to demonstrate or draw the world attention to meet political cause.

ransom 2.Ransom:

Ransom is demanded against the ship and ship’s cargo. Ship’s crew are generally not harmed.

In case of aircrafts, the hijackers demand release of terrorists who are in prison or simply blow up the aircraft to draw world attention or expect the government to meet their political demands.

place 3.Place:

Piracy takes place at certain known places, mostly in coastal areas.

In case of hijacking, it can take place anywhere.

crime 4.Crime network:

Piracy is by local criminals and is restricted to certain regions only.

In case of hijacking, it is carried out by worldwide network of criminals.

planning 5.Planning:

Hardly any planning is done by pirates to attack a ship. They carry out the attack on sighting a ship.

In case of hijacking, foolproof planning to hijack a specific aircraft is done meticulously.

backround 6.Background:

Sea pirates are only males, less educated, poor and good navigators.

Hijackers can be males and females, well educated, intelligent, misguided youth with strong will power.

history 7.History:

Piracy is going on for centuries and is an old profession.

In case of of hijacking, it is a recent development going on for the past few decades.

speed 8.Speed of the craft:

Ships are bigger in size and move very slowly comparing to the aircrafts. Pirates come in fast moving crafts with modern weapons to capture the ship.

In case of aircrafts, the hijackers have no means to chase an aircraft and capture the aircraft.

cargo 9.Type of Craft:

Pirates prefer to capture generally cargo ships because of less number of ships crew to resist the attack. Pirates prefer to take possession of costly ship and costly ship’s cargo.

In case of aircrafts, hijackers prefer passenger aircrafts to take possession of the passengers to use them as human shield. Also, they prefer to use the aircraft to crash on soft targets.

attack 10.Mode of Attack:

Pirates approach towards the ship in fast moving crafts with lethal weapons to attack after sighting a ship.

In case of aircrafts, hijackers board the aircraft as passengers and commence their operation after getting airborne.

resistance 11.Resistance:

Pirates can be scared or repelled by the ship’s crew if the ship is provided with light arms, ammunition and training to the ship’s crew.

In case of hijackers, repulsion by the passengers is impossible as the hijackers are ready for suicide missions.

demand 12. Meeting the demands:

Shipping companies or Ship owners meet the demands of the pirates to release the ship and ship’s crew.

In case of hijacking, the government takes action to meet their demand.

punishment 13.Punishments and Preventive actions:

Tougher punishments or preventive actions by the countries are the least to stop piracy.

In case of hijacking, tougher punishments and foolproof preventive actions are being taken by all countries to stop hijacking.

intelligence_1 14.Intelligence inputs or warnings:

No definite intelligence is available of a piracy attack.

Reliable intelligence is available on hijacking because of global determination to fight out terrorism.

global_attention 15.Government reaction and Global efforts:

Very few countries only react strongly to piracy attacks. However global awareness is increasing to fight out piracy.

In case of hijacking, all countries are united and determined to fight out hijacking. This is the only reason for the reduced incidents of hijacking of aircrafts.

Your views are welcome.

Update: June 11

For reference on Piracy:

Here is a 60 page report titled Primer: Piracy in Asia for the years 2002 and 2003 at secure-marine. Also IMO reports on Piracy are available here.

Update: June 12

Female pirates were there in olden days. Read more from Life at Sea.

Update: June 15

French private military firm Secopex to take on Somali pirates. Read more from EagleSpeak.

Update: June 21

What global average temperature has got to do with number of pirates ? There is a statistically significant inverse relationship between pirates and global temperature. Read more from The Church of FSM.

Update: June 26

BIMCO is pleased to announce the start of a new ‘Piracy Reports’ web service to be found under the Security heading. Read more from BIMCO.

Update: July 15

Five pirates boarded a yacht off Venezuela coast and robbed 61 year old couple who were on a round the world voyage. Also pirates shot their pet dog. Read more from BBC News.

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