Piracy Continues off the Coast of Somalia


Pirates have been hijacking ships in the Gulf of Aden and along the coast of East Africa for many years.  This part of the seas belongs to the busiest shipping routes in the world. Countries from around the world have sent their navies to protect their ships from pirates.

Pirates have professional equipment. They work with satellite phones and GPS receivers, as well as grenades and hi-tech machine guns. The pirates also have contacts on land that tell them where to wait for ships and when to attack them.

Pirates often use speedboats to seize ships. They are quicker and move faster than the large cargo ships and tankers they hijack. They use ropes, hooks and ladders to climb aboard ships, often at night. Before the crew realizes what has happened, pirates have already taken control of the vessel. Then they sail the ship to their home port and wait until money is paid by the ship’s owners.

For ship owners Somali piracy means higher costs. They must pay more for the ship and crew's insurance and also need more fuel to sail on routes that lead them farther away from where the pirates operate.

These criminal acts are committed in international waters, which means that no country is really responsible for capturing and punishing the pirates. Many pirates have been taken to nearby Kenya because there has been no functioning government in Somalia for two decades. The Kenyan government, however, says it is unfair to take all the prisoners there because Kenya has nothing to do with the hijackings. Experts say that an international court under United Nations supervision is needed.


More and more Somali pirates kidnap ships and their crew because the situation in their home country is hopeless. They are poor, with no money and no jobs. For many pirates and their families it is often the only way to survive. In 2009 pirates earned about $ 150 million through ransom payments.


Pirate captured off the coast of Somalia

Pirate captured off the coast of Somalia


Related Topics


  • busy = full of activity , with a lot of traffic
  • capture = a catch a person and keep them as prisoner
  • cargo = goods that are carried on a ship
  • commit =  to do something
  • contact = a person who gives you important information
  • court = the place where a judge and a jury get together and hold a trial
  • decade = a period of ten years
  • equipment = machines and other things you need for doing a job
  • farther = a greater distance
  • fuel = a substance like oil that is produced and used as energy
  • functioning = something that works correctly
  • GPS receiver = a system that uses radio signals from satellites  to show where you are on earth
  • grenade = small bomb that can be fired from a gun
  • hijack = to use violence to take control of a ship or plane
  • hook = a curved piece of metal that you use for hanging things on
  • insurance = if you pay a company money; they then pay for the costs if something bad happens
  • navy = the part of a country’s army that fights at sea
  • owner = a person whom a ship belongs to
  • piracy = the crime of attacking and stealing ships at sea
  • port = harbour , place where a ship travels to load and unload goods
  • protect = defend, guard
  • punish = to make someone suffer because they have done something wrong
  • ransom payment = the money that you pay to for someone who is held as a prisoner
  • realize = understand
  • responsible = blame
  • satellite phone = a telephone that connects you to other people through a satellite
  • seize = capture , take control of
  • speedboat = small and very fast boat
  • supervision = control
  • survive = to live on
  • vessel = ship