According to most experts, the ‘Golden Age of Piracy’ was the 1650s – 1720s. This was era of the legendary Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, Anne Bonny, ‘Calico Jack’ Rackham, Henry Morgan and many other nefarious buccaneers. The biggest reason for the piracy outbreak was the War of Spanish Succession (Queen Anne’s War). This was the height of piracy—perhaps until now.

If you’ve been watching the news lately, you already know that piracy is out of control. Cruise ships, freighters, yachts, and tankers are all targets these days. There are two types of pirates. Less sophisticated pirates seize a vessel and grab whatever booty is on board, just like in the good ole days. A new crop of hardcore pirates capture the ships and crews and hold them until a profitable ransom can be negotiated.

Last year, a U.S. cargo ship was captured by pirates off the Horn of Africa. Captain Richard Phillips surrendered himself to the pirates to keep his twenty-member crew safe during the ransom negotiations. The U.S. Navy soon rescued Captain Phillips and captured the pirates.

This month, a supertanker sailing from the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Mexico was hijacked while carrying $150 million worth of oil. This is the second attack on an oil tanker in two days. Negotiations are still underway, and if successful, pirates could make as much as $10 million off this prize.

The most recent piracy attack on four Americans aboard a yacht has shocked the world. Until now, pirates have not killed hostages. They use them to negotiate a ransom and then let them go. While the Navy was in talks with some of the pirates holding these two couples, other pirates fatally shot them using a rocket-propelled grenade followed by gunfire. Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle and Jean and Scott Adam were killed while sailing around the world handing out Bibles. The pirates have been captured and may face U.S. prosecution. It depends on jurisdictional issues since piracy occurs in international waters, which creates further problems when it comes to capturing and punishing the criminals.

Stay tuned for more posts from Terrance on piracy, ghosts, lighthouses, and travel.

Terrance Zepke,

Guest Blog by Terrance Zepke, author of Pirates of the Carolinas and Pirates of the Carolinas for Kids. Terrance Zepke has written several books including Best Ghost Tales of North Carolina, Best Ghost Tales of South Carolina, Coastal North Carolina, Coastal South Carolina, Ghosts and Legends of the Carolina Coasts, Ghosts of the Carolina Coasts, Lighthouses of the Carolinas, Lighthouses of the Carolinas for Kids, and Lowcountry Voodoo.