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Authors

Peter Hershey

Abstract

This article explores the existing law governing Underwater Cultural Heritage (UCH) which is classified as “pirate-flagged.” First, this article discusses the discovery of the Whydah Galley, an 18th century slave trader vessel, which was captured by pirate Captain Samuel Bellamy and transformed into the flagship of his pirate fleet, and the subsequent discoveries of additional “pirate-flagged” shipwrecks, including the international regulatory scheme governing ownership of the property on these sunken vessels. This article discusses both 20th century international conventions which define piracy and historic case law which clarifies these definitions. Then, the article analyzes both the early American and contemporary American applications of the definition of piracy in the courts. This article concludes by evaluating the various approaches which may be used to define piracy, and thus classify a vessel as “pirate-flagged,” with an eye towards future opportunities for application of this definition and its implications on UCH which has yet to be found. The spelling and syntax of much of the source material is maintained as it originally appeared at the time of its publication.

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