Page 8: of Maritime Logistics Professional Magazine (Q1 2011)
8 Maritime Professional 1Q 2011
Piracy on the east coast of Africa has increased substantial- ly over recent years, and although there has been a concerted effort from multi-national naval coalitions to stem the inci- dence, Somali based pirate activity shows no sign of abating.
Piracy within the Indian Ocean is largely a reflection of the onshore political instability within Somalia, and therefore the naval forces that are operating in the region can only treat the manifestation of the political volatility and not tackle the root cause. Before there is a notable reduction in incidents of pira- cy throughout the Indian Ocean, an onshore solution needs to be sought.
In recent months there has been an escalation in the fre- quency of incidents, and by using previously hijacked ves- sels as mother ships, pirates are capable of operating increasing- ly deep into the Indian Ocean.
In December, Somali pirates recorded their furthest easterly attack (the hijacking of MV
Jahan Moni on December 5 at 071° 43’E), and their furthest southerly attack (the IMB reported the Fishing Vessel Vega 5 was hijacked on December 28 at 21° 55’S). In recognition of the evolution in tactics and the rise in activity into hitherto unaffected areas, the Joint
Warfare Committee (JWC) expanded its Hull War, Strikes,
Terrorism and Related Perils
Listed Areas. The ‘listed areas’ northern extent now reaches the Iranian coast to include parts of the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea and now extends to 78°E. It was previously limited at 15°N and 65°E.
Although the vast area that pirates are able to operate in presents a specific challenge to coalition forces, Somali based pirates remain opportunistic and target those vessels that they deem vulnerable. There have been numerous occasions where employing the guidelines outlined in the Best Management
Practices document, authored by coalition naval forces and industry stakeholders, has proven effective in deterring pirates. In recent months the use of a safe room or citadel has proved effective in facilitating the release of a boarded vessel, not only in the Gulf of Aden where coalition forces are in rel- ative close proximity to the incident, but also in the Indian
Ocean where help from a coalition frigate may be a number of hours sailing away. However, issues remain that need to be addressed when considering the preparation of a citadel, and guidance should be sought from security experts. Before boarding by naval forces is carried out, all of the crew must be in the citadel, the crew must have self contained and independent two way external communications, and the pirates must have no access to propulsion of the vessel.
The increased pirate activity throughout the region has also resulted in a hardening of attitudes towards armed patrols.
The use of armed guards on vessels is becoming increasingly common and has proved effective in doc- umented recent incidents.
While there are several proponents of their use, and NATO is documented to remain neutral on the issue, the debate surround- ing armed guards is cur- rently ongoing. There are two fundamental challenges that need to be considered: the nexus of the relationship between the security team, the mas- ter of the vessel and the owners of the vessel; and the poten- tial escalation of the use of force in potential future attacks.
Maritime criminal activity off West Africa has remarkably different social and political drivers at its root. Whereas pira- cy off East Africa is largely dominated by Somali based pirates with the motivation to hijack vessels for multi-million dollar ransoms, activity off West Africa, predominantly in the
Maritime Risk & Piracy
Differentiating Piracy in the East and West Africa
By Tom Roberts, Drum Cussac
PIRACY BY THE NUMBERS 2011* 2010 2009 2008
Ships Attacked Worldwide 58 445 406 293
Ships Taken Worldwide 8 53 49 49
Seafarers Killed Worldwide 1 8 8 11
Seafarers Captured Worldwide 169 1,181 1,050 889
Somalia/Gulf of Aden Attacks 45 219 217 111
Somalia/Gulf of Aden Taken 8 49 41 42
Percent Hijacked by Somali Pirates 100 92 84 86
Source: IMB Piracy Reporting Center. 2011 (*) figures updated as of 8 February 2011. As of February 8, 31 vessels and 700 hostages were being held by Somali pirates. According to IMB, More people were taken hostage at sea in 2010 than in any year on record. The number of pirate attacks against ships has risen every year for the last four years. IMB’s Piracy Reporting Center has monitored piracy world- wide since 1991 and is the world’s only manned center to receive reports of pirate attacks 24 hours a day from across the globe.