Why do pirates attack boats or ships?

In this article, we will see why pirates attack boats and how they will get money from that. There are many reasons why pirates will attack boats or ships.

The one and the only main reason why pirates attack boats or ships is money(to survive). Southeast Asian pirates make money by stealing cargo(Often oil). Somalian pirates make money by the crew(ransom).

The main reason for piracy in Somalia is because of extreme poverty caused due to civil war which held for decades. On the other hand, Southeast Asia(especially Indonesia) is highly affected by piracy.

According to a 2010 study by the One Earth Future Foundation, each year international economy is losing 7 billion – 12 billion dollars due to piracy.

One Earth Future Foundation

Piracy places in the world

Some of the piracy places are listed below.

  • Southeast Asia(Indonesia, Malaysia, South of Philippines)
  • Somalia
  • Indian Ocean
  • Arabian sea
  • The Gulf of Guinea and the Gulf of Aden
  • South china sea and malacca strait

The 80% of the pirates are attacking the anchored ships and looting costly equipment, crew’s belongings, and any cash on aboard.

List of pirate attacks from 2010 – 2019

yearNo. of attacks

Pirate attacks in southeast Asia

For centuries pirates have been roaming the seas of Southeast Asia attacking ships and taking hostages even taking lives. On average ships are being attacked by pirates every 2 to 3 days in a year. And even the pirates have upgraded to the latest technology and doing attacks more professionally.

About 60,000 vessels pass through the Malacca strait(the narrow part between Indonesia and Malaysia) each year. These vessels carry 40% of global trade and 75% of petroleum. The Malacca Strait is a narrow pass between Indonesia and Malaysia making them easy targets for pirates.

Mostly southeast Asian countries make money by taking cargo(often oil) from ships. From 1995 to 2013 amongst, all the pirate attacks in the world, Southeast Asia did 41% of the attacks.

Check this Wikipedia page on Malacca strait click here (don’t worry, it will open in new tab)

How Southeast Asian pirates make money?

Southeast Asian pirates make money by taking money from the crew or smuggling the goods. Nowadays, all these pirates are doing their jobs professionally, in a good way. They will take cargo(often oil) and sell them in the stock markets for a low price. Generally, these pirates don’t attack the crew.

The world’s most dangerous seas are Southeast Asian – and for pirates, they offer rich pickings.


Pirate attacks near Somalia

Somalia has the longest coast among the African countries, which makes it easy for pirate attacks. The Gulf of Aden is the primary zone for attacks. The GDP per capita is very low and only 1.8% of its land is suitable for growing crops. And the long coastline is poisoned due to the toxic wastes been dumped in the water, which killed most of the fishes.

That’s why they chose to become pirates. Somalian people are getting 2.7 million dollars(for each person) each year from piracy and they chose that for their jobs.

Check this Wikipedia page on the list of Somali pirate attacks click here (don’t worry, it will open in new tab).

How Somalian pirates make money?

When it comes to Somalian pirates, their soil is not good enough to cultivate crops. So, they can’t get much money from that, and they need money for survival. So they followed a different way to get money.

Somalian pirates make money by hijacking the boat or ship and demand for money. If they came to know that anyone has Kidnapping and Ransom insurance, then they will get more money. These attacks cost the shipping companies to pay about $4.9 billion – 8.3 billion dollars each year.

The only solution to solve this pirates problem in Somalia is by giving alternative ways for making money.

Somalia pirate attack list

yearNo. of attacks
2010 – 2014358
2015 – 20198

Pirate attacks in the Gulf of guinea

The Gulf of Guinea is an emerging area for piracy activities, the Gulf of Guinea covers the western part of Africa. Piracy in this area affects many countries in West Africa as well as the wider international community. By 2011, it had become an issue of global concern. Pirates in the Gulf of Guinea are often heavily armed with more explosives, and they will do anything to steal oil cargo.

In 2012, the International Maritime Bureau, Oceans Beyond Piracy, and the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Program reported that the number of vessel attacks by West African pirates had reached a world high, with 966 seafarers attacked during the year. It is a very important trade route for crude oil tankers to the European and American continents, making it an appropriate target for pirates.

Check this Wikipedia page for more information click here (don’t worry, it will open in new tab).

Pirate attacks in the Indian ocean

Piracy attacks have started in the Indian ocean at the beginning of the civil war in Somalia in 1990. Many international organizations expressed their concerns that they are spending $6.6 – $6.9 billion dollars(per year) extra expenses due to piracy attacks.

Then considered one area know as Maritime Security Patrol Area( a specified patrol zone in the Gulf of Aden and Guardafui Channel.) and started fighting against piracy. By September 2012, the piracy in the Indian Ocean was reportedly over. After that there are very few attacks reported, even those attacks are not succeded.

Overall, the main regions where the pirates’ attacks are the gulf of Adel and Southeast Asia. These are the main regions where mostly the attacks take place.

Check this Wikipedia article on the Gulf of Aden click here (don’t worry, it will open in new tab).

Indonesia pirate attacks list

yearNo. of attacks

Related questions

1. how do Somali pirates hijack ships?

After locking the target the pirates will follow the ship to some extent, and once they get close to the target they will switch to two boats and use rope or ladder to climb the ship. The crew will try to defend, but they can’t defend the people who have powerful weapons.

Check this video for more details on Somali pirates.

1. Are Somali pirates dangerous?

Somali pirates will hijack the ship, kidnap the crew and demand for money. Check the full article above on that.


My name is Mahidhar, and I am passionate about boating. Every day I learn some new things about boats and share them here on the site.

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