Legally qualified pirates of the Caribbean

It can be interesting to combine a legal qualification with another specialization. The Los Angeles Times reports on an attorney and ship’s captain who repossesses ships all over the world. He runs a business called Vessel Extractions, together with an admiralty lawyer.

Steering ships back into the waters of more reliable jurisdictions involves subterfuge and sometimes witchcraft. International waters are described as ‘worse than the Wild West’.

BEFORE repossessing a ship, they make sure the vessel has been seized illegally and the claims filed against it are fraudulent.
If negotiations and legal methods fail, the company will proceed with an extraction, a step that might include payments to local officials if a nation’s government is corrupt.
Those payments, Hardberger said, are made under exceptions in the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits U.S. citizens from bribing foreign officials to retain or obtain business.

What about the Federal Voodoo Act? There’s a great story about the retaking of a ship from Haiti,

Hardberger managed to get the guards off the ship by offering to buy fuel. When they came down to the dock to discuss the transaction, off-duty Haitian riot police hired by Hardberger held them at bay.
MEANWHILE, an oceangoing tugboat also hired by Hardberger slipped into port and backed up to the Aztec Express. Under a full moon, the crew began cutting the anchor chains with blowtorches.
In case harbor officials noticed and tried to call for help on their cellphone, Hardberger had paid a witch doctor $100 to cast spells on the port’s soccer field. The witch doctor marked the field with gray powder, a clear warning to believers in voodoo, the nation’s dominant religion. No call ever went out.

(The soccer field was the only place where mobile phones worked). Hardberger has also written a novel, Freighter Captain.

Learn all about pirates at

Via Boing Boing and the pirates of the Costa Dorada

One thought on “Legally qualified pirates of the Caribbean

  1. I was all for it until I read that the list of “unreliable jurisdictions” seems to include an EU memberstate (Greece) … Bloody Yanks!

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