Pirates have existed since man sails the seas, being a term known in Greece from the ancient norms of navigation, the “Nomos Nauticos”. Synonymous with cruelty and marine robbery for centuries, Romanticism made buccaneers an ideal of personal exaltation, freedom, and adventure. Pirates immortalized by the privateer Lord Byron in his verses; Schubert in his music; or Turner in the painting. And beyond Romanticism, for the novels of Verne, Salgari, and Dumas or Poe, Conrad, London, D’Annunzio, Shelley and Conan-Doyle, where pirates hate any law that is not theirs and combine companionship and bravery. with the rebellion to the world avocado on earth And, of course, they favor the “Black Legend” against the noblest Empire in the history of mankind.

In the 19th century, it seemed that the black flag with the skull had been lowered, but the reality is different from Espronceda’s lyrics in his “Pirate’s Song.” For centuries we Spaniards have suffered from pirates, whether they were the Berbers in the Mediterranean or the English, French, and Dutch in the Atlantic and the Caribbean. They were a nightmare for merchants and coastal populations. And international society was only spared from its violence when in the 19th century it was organized, the navies adopted the steamship and the pirates were pursued until they destroyed their ports of supply and organization in the Mediterranean, the East, and the Caribbean. It seemed that the black flag with the skull, so diffused by the cinema, had been lowered from their ships, and sailors and fishermen would enjoy nature, fishing, and ocean trade in peace.

The key: political instability

However, at the end of the 20th century, pirates reappeared due to political instability and the lack of resources of coastal states to monitor their maritime spaces. And, among the countries in which piracy has developed in recent years, Somalia stands out, where the absence of a government, which made it a failed state, combined with the overexploitation of fishing and the dumping of toxic waste in its waters. Armed local militias emerged to prevent illegal fishing and dumping, and these soon turned to detain ships, demanding a ransom for themselves and their crews they became pirates. Ecological attacks and fishing depletion of its waters were already corrected by the International Community, making any “understanding” of piracy in the Horn of Africa unjustifiable.

However, since 2008, numerous ships have been hijacked and their crews have suffered captivity while awaiting payment of ransoms; and sometimes rape, torture, or death. Today, despite international efforts to pacify this strategic area and make its economy prosperous, safeguard its resources from industrial depredation and take care of its environment, after the last civil war in Somalia, piracy is cancer against the common good of the world society and from these eastern countries in Africa and Asia bathed by the Gulf of Aden, the Sea of Oman, the Arabian Gulf, and the Indian Ocean. And also a profitable industry.

The network of managers and financiers

Because pirates are not romantic filibusters like those in the novels. Somali pirates, often under the influence of the drug khat, attack merchant and fishing vessels of any nationality, dhows (typical vessels of the Indian Ocean, from Yemen to India), or sailing vessels that sail through these seas. And they do it with an evil organized like an international business, with a network of managers, financiers, and investors thousands of miles from the assaults, mercenary leaders, foot pirates, alliances with Islamic terrorism, weapons obtained on the black market, and modern navigation and communication systems. This has made necessary the intervention of the navies of many countries, including those of the European Union, which launched “Operation Atalanta”. Operation Atalanta focused on the fight against piracy in the Indian Ocean under the protection of different resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, and in which Spain has exercised command of the deployed Naval Force (Eunavfor) on several occasions.

The Spanish frigate “Numancia”, one of the seven warships of Eunavfor

A mission in which Spain contributes to the operation of our Navy and our contribution to world peace, protecting the ships of the World Food Program that carry humanitarian aid for Somalia, the traffic of merchant ships of any flag in the area, the work of our fishing boats in the Indian Ocean and the safety of the boats of the local maritime communities, dedicated to fishing and the transport of goods. That is why, far from our families, our frigate “Numancia” sails in this remote Indian Ocean, devouring miles in the line of duty, guarding the coasts night and day, and facing the heat, humidity, fatigue, and the absence of our homes. His crew, completed with the comrades of the embarked air unit of the Tenth Helicopter Squadron, plows through these waters fighting against the worst enemy of the sailor in the ocean man metamorphosed into a pirate. Because, in the face of the pirates’ actions, yesterday, today, and tomorrow there will always be our Navy.