Terror at Sea brings to real life all the terror of an attack by pirates armed with rocket-launchers and automatic machine-guns. It tells of disappearing phantom ships and of a cigarette fraud run by a brilliant New Jersey conman, the loss of MV Estonia and many other disasters at sea. As it enters the mysterious world of the Triads, some of the most bloody, cunning and lucrative attacks, frauds and schemes of the past twenty years are brought to the page in an exciting and refreshing way.
“Even as you read these lines, somewhere on the high seas mariners are being attacked by armed pirates, their faces masked, their weapons deadly. Their victims may be murdered, tortured, seized as hostages, or simply dumped overboard.
Today, piracy is a multibillion dollar business. A recent worrying trend, bringing the threat closer to home, is the use of such ill-gotten gains to fund terrorism. International law enforcement, despite a welcome increased will to combat crime at sea, has struggled to be effective in prevention and punishment.”
“Once aboard Anna Sierra, the masked or hooded pirates opened fire with machine guns. It was a terrifying show of force. They shot away the door to the accommodation where most of the crew were asleep or relaxing in the basic simplicity of their quarters. Those on the bridge were overpowered. Surprise had made it easy. The pirates were in control within a few moments. Forced from their bunks or from the engine room under threat of instant death, the crew offered no resistance. Fearing for their lives, the crew were forced into two cabins, handcuffed together in lines and then left.
There they remained awaiting their fate without food or water for two days. There were no facilities for bodily functions. Life in those cramped and locked cabins was sub-human, the smell of fear, stale sweat and excrement overwhelming. Escape was impossible. The best hope, their first hope, had been that they would be freed quickly after the looting had been finished. Any hope that the raiders would quickly leave had long passed as hour after hour passed.
Reverberating through the ship came the steady sound of the engines. From nearby came laughter and excited chatter as the attackers looted the cabins. As their confinement entered the second day, spirits were low. Some knew of pirates dumping a crew on a remote island. They had all heard that some crews had simply disappeared, presumed murdered. Worst fears were unspoken. Unseen by the prisoners, fourteen pirates sped away taking with them looted goods. The remainder were ample to control the situation and to run the ship.
The sound of their cabin doors being unlocked was received with mixed emotions.Would it be food and water? Were they to be freed, maybe dumped on a deserted island to await rescue? After two uncomfortable days, the unshaven, dishevelled and starving crew were freed from their makeshift cells. There was no offer of food. Instead, they were driven at gunpoint to the deck. The shabby group shuffled along, their wrists sore from the handcuffs. At least now the salty air was like wine. It was a relief to be freed from the cramped confines of the two cabins. Their clothes, old anyway, had been lived in for too long and were dirty. Each man stank of the ordeal they had each been through. Spirits were low from the ferocity of the attack. That had been savage enough.
But suddenly after forty-eight hours of fear had come release from the stench. Now as they shuffled forward, they were fearful. What would these bastards do to them? Each man’s thoughts were the same: of friends, of family, of laughter in ports like Hong Kong or Manila where they had been headed. Their thoughts were unspoken, their imagination running wild as they saw the hooded men, machine guns at the ready.
The Jump Buddy Gang
Some had heard of the Jump Buddy Pirate Gang, so known for making crews walk the plank at gunpoint with the command ambak pare – meaning Jump Buddy. That gang was one of thirty-six Filipino gangs operating in these waters, some of them believed to have military connections. These crews rarely survived abandonment. Was that to be their fate? Was this the end? Balaclavas and masks were being removed by the pirates, revealing young faces but with dead eyes and mean lips. Oh no! Surely that can only mean one thing: their captors no longer cared about being recognised. Surely this is the end.