Thursday, December 4, 2008

Steve Irwin Pirate Ship - A rebuttal

The following post was emailed by commenter Will:

Many have suggested here and here that the Steve Irwin’s crew is guilty of piracy. In fact Kennebec Captain even posts the definition piracy:
illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation. The Captain later states: Again, I am no lawyer but it does seem that a good argument could be made that the crew of of the Steve Irwin are in fact pirates.

This may seem like a sound argument at first. As one reads the definition further, one finds the phrase “committed for for private ends”. This means that the crew of the Steve Irwin must have some kind of private gain in order to be declared pirates. For those who would disagree, I point to the 1961 seizing of the Santa Maria. The ship was taken over at sea by a man named Galvao and 70 of his followers. The takeover was to represent a revolution against the government of Portugal. According to Brittin:
“No private gain...was envisioned. From the above it follows that no act of piracy…had taken place.”
So, as long as the act is not for private gain it isn’t considered piracy.

The fact that the Steve Irwin considers itself a political cause means that the situation is similar to that of Galvao. That is, while they may seem like pirates, they are outside the definition of piracy.

Sources: International Law for Seagoing Officers By Burdick Brittin

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