The Silver Oar and Pirates: The Past Comes Full Circle

    February 2010

    In the December 2009/Jan/Feb 2010 issue of Seaport, Squire Sanders partner Douglas R. Burnett discusses modern day piracy and the historical significance of the silver oar, which has been the symbol of the Admiralty Court of England since at least the eighteenth century.

    The article, “The Silver Oar and Pirates: The Past Comes Full Circle,” offers some background on the silver oar, while exploring the case of Abduwali Abdukahadir Muse who was charged in 2009 with piracy, and other crimes for his attack on the Maersk Alabama. Mr. Burnett argues that the current explosion in piracy is due to a number of factors including obsolete legal codes relating to piracy, the inability of nations with flagged ships to enforce the laws they have and the gross lack of precautions taken by the shipping industry, whose attitude seems to be that piracy is simply a cost of doing business. Mr. Burnett sees these issues as still fixable and hopes that the Muse case jumpstarts change.

    This article was reprinted with permission from Seaport.