Hostages benefit from preparation
Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Proper preparation and the right foundation of knowledge and education help minimize the level of trauma in connection with pirate encounters. The human cost in connection with hostage-taking, has proven less severe, when the captured individual has received hostage training or education beforehand.

The book contains mental tools and knowledge to help the sailor cope under stressful situations in relation to piracy and thereby improve his chances of returning home with as few physical and emotional injuries as possible.

Example: The optimal course of action, when the citadel is about to be breached, and there is no chance of rescue, is for the captain to call for surrender, just before the room is overrun by pirates. The captain should calmly inform the pirates that everyone has surrendered and that the crew and ship now belong to them and open the door voluntarily. It is not recommended to remain inside the citadel till the point where the pirates break down the door and enter by force.

The two scenarios may seem similar and the end-state is the same, but the consequences for the crewmembers, both their immediate treatment and the level of aggression they have to face are very different, also in the long run as hostages.

Coping with Capture provides the sailors with knowledge of the pirates and assists them in choosing the best course of action, should the worst case scenario become a reality, and they come face to face with armed pirates.
The higher the level of stress resilience and ability to cope with the capture, the more likely it is for the sailor to wish to return to his work at sea afterwards. The level of trauma is lessened and it becomes easier for the sailor to readjust to his normal life after being released.

Knowledge and training is the key to reducing stress and to becoming more stress-resilient. The hostage is prone to two types of stress during captivity: The acute and the long term, accumulated stress. Acute stress is a state of highest alert, connected mainly to abnormal, potentially life threatening situations. It can be a car crash, extreme violence, aggressive robbery or a pirate attack or hostage taking.

Acute stress causes the individual to react instinctually, without first pausing to consider the consequences of his actions. This reflex is meant to help protect us and even save our lives: By either making us escape the danger or strike out against the opponent come to harm us. If you are unaware of the effects of acute stress and furthermore have no knowledge of how to counter it, it may prove very dangerous in a hostage situation. Neither fight nor flight is an option here and instinctual reactions will only serve to further escalate the danger of the situation, not only for the individual but also for the colleagues around him.

Being properly prepared on how to handle stress-reactions and cope with acute and accumulated stress will help the hostage get through his captivity with as little physical and psychological trauma as possible.

Help us educate the sailors
We appreciate assistance in preparing and educating sailors to cope with the threat of piracy.

We call upon anyone, who has been in contact with pirates, in any corner of the world, to share with us, any information you may have about the pirates; their methods of attack, boarding, citadel breaching, or their treatment of hostages.

Please mail to

Thank you.

The educated hostage
Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Coping with Capture 
prepares the sailor for encounters with professional hostage-takers through self-education. The team behind the book has been acutely aware, that it will, no doubt, be read by pirates. Its guidelines promote deescalating behavior that aims to eliminate misunderstandings, conflict and unintentional provocation. This is beneficial for the pirates as well as for the hostages.

A hostage taking is considered a misfortune by some, but a professional business by others. We need to prepare our sailors for that misfortune and for the professional piracy business, they risk encountering while at work.

Professional pirates are subject to professional rules. They exist in a hierarchal structure, subjected to internal discipline and social norms. They adhere to certain standard operational procedures; during attack, citadel-breaching and when guarding the hostages. Their interaction with each other and their hostages follow a certain pattern as does the negotiations for a ransom settlement.

Sailors need to be educated
We need to educate the sailors to even out the scales between professional hostage-takers and the sailors who have become their victims.

The hostages need to be professionalized. This hostage handbook contains knowledge of the Somali pirates: Their current strategies, their hierarchy and cultural norms, and their ways of approaching the hostages. It also aims to help the sailor cope with two types of stress relating to piracy; acute and accumulated stress.

Hostages report that the humiliation and the feeling of helplessness and feeling completely under the control of others, are among the most distressing issues of being a hostage. It may even lead to severe psychological trauma, such as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

Coping with Capture provides the potential hostage with guidelines on how to interact with the pirates. Thereby giving him the opportunity to influence his surroundings and thereby obtain a measure of control of his own situation. It also guides the hostage on how to strengthen the unity of the group and assist others using psychological first aid.

These measures can help counter the feelings of passivity and the role as a victim.

This book will be read by pirates
These guidelines are based on professional hostage survival training and a thorough knowledge of the pirates’ social norms, provided by certified hostage survival instructors, a crisis psychologist, and a Somali interpreter, who has specialized in counter piracy.

When you educate the hostages, you also educate the pirates. The hostage handbook will, no doubt, be read by pirates. The team behind the book has been acutely aware of this fact when its content was selected. The guidelines in the book promote deescalating behavior. They aim to eliminate misunderstandings, conflict and unintentional provocation.

This is beneficial for the pirates as well as the hostages.