Even knowing that piracy is older than the pyramids of Egypt, one may find certain similarities between pirates who operated in different historical epochs. This paper looks into the similarities between the pirates of modernity and pirates of the past.
Pirates of the past and pirates of the modernity pursue the same goals and use similar means based on violence. They pursued and continue to pursue material goals, of getting cash either directly from the ship passengers/crews or, often, as ransoms from ship owners/relatives of the captives. Modern pirates use such tools as hijacking, kidnapping, violence, and robbery. Those means were employed by old pirates, too (Palmer 2).
Similarly to the pirates of the old days, modern pirates face great risks as they go out to sea to carry out hijackings. According to Andrew Palmer, the author of the book about modern piracy, “The life of a modern Somali pirate is often extremely short: skiffs are sent off to sea without adequate fuel and drinkable water for a return ship” so that “most succumb to the perils of the ocean.” Others die as a result of the so-called turf-wars between various Somali groups. Likewise, in the past, pirates had to face harsh conditions as they happened to fight a lot before seizing the ships. For example, Blackbeard and Black Bart were murdered in the battles with the Royal Navy, although most pirates would rather shy away from fighting to death (Boot, “Pirates, Then and Now”).
Other similarities include opportunities of prowling where the rewards are high, the risk is low, and the existence of a safe haven. As for the places where the pirates of modernity prowl, these are ocean-going vessels, which can be easily overtaken by small boats moving with high-speed. In the past, swift pirate barks could easily catch up with galleons heavily laden with silver and gold. Next, both cohorts of pirates made/make use of low-risk areas where there was/is only slight detection. If in the past those areas included the Caribbean and Mediterranean, these days the low-risk areas include the South China Sea and the areas off the coast of Africa.
In summary, there are clear similarities between the pirates of the past and present. It proves that piracy is likely to last for years to come.