Written by Dryad Maritime/defenceWeb,
Piracy and maritime crime continues to fall across the globe, from the Horn of Africa to Southeast Asia, according to statistics compiled by a maritime intelligence provider for the first quarter of 2014.
Dryad Maritime today said there is an overall downturn in incidents across the Horn of Africa, the Gulf of Guinea and Southeast Asia compared to the same period last year. However, Dryad Maritime cautioned that ‘shock’ incidents and evolving criminal trends remain a very real threat to the shipping industry.
According to Dryad, the overall statistics show a 13% reduction in crime, but ‘shock’ incidents such as the kidnap and ransom of seafarers off the Niger Delta still present real and credible threats; six seafarers are still believed to be in captivity in Nigeria. Similarly, the hijack of MT Kerala from its Angolan anchorage with the subsequent theft of 13 000 tons of gasoil off the Niger Delta, has demonstrated the increasing reach of Nigerian based criminals. These shock incidents made international headlines but across the Gulf of Guinea the media have failed to report the spate of incidents that has seen crew kidnapped and then released, Dryad said.
“This analysis gives cause for concern and serves as a reminder to all seafarers to remain vigilant and employ appropriate risk reduction measures in all high risk areas,” said Ian Millen, Dryad Maritime’s Director of Intelligence. “Maritime criminals, from those off Nigeria to Somali pirates and those that operate in the archipelago of Southeast Asia remain very much in business and are capable of inflicting misery on seafarers. The first line of defence is to be aware of their presence and take measures to ensure that their criminal activities are countered”.
In the Horn of Africa, reported incidents appear to have risen from 9 in the first quarter of 2013 to 15 in the first quarter of 2014, but Dryad analysts attribute part of this data to a misinterpretation of events such as the misidentification of regional fishermen in the Southern Red Sea and off the coast of Oman. However, Dryad cautions against complacency, as a number of the reported incidents occurred are the result of Somali piracy.
“Somali pirates have not been totally eradicated. Armed attacks against MT Nave Atropos, south of Salalah in January and the Kenyan vessel, MV Andrea, close to the Somali coast in February have proved that broad containment of the threat does not mean it has been removed. On both occasions, the Somali attackers were only repelled by embarked armed security teams on the vessels concerned” said Millen.
Across the waters of Southeast Asia, again the data highlights a decrease in reported maritime crime, with incidents dropping from 41 in the first quarter of 2013 to 31 in the first quarter of 2014. However, Dryad analysts note the incidents that have been logged possibly indicate a new modus operandi with criminals demonstrating a trend towards robbery from vessels underway in the Singapore Strait rather than boarding those anchor.
“The Singapore Strait has attracted attention with a number of vessels boarded for robbery in the first quarter of the year; a spate of attacks that has coincided with a reduction of incidents in the anchorages off Pulau Nipah, possibly signalling a change of modus operandi for criminal gangs who may have shifted attention to boarding vessels that are underway” continued Millen.
Re-used with permission of defenceweb.co.za
Maritime Security News Note:
Confucius says: always beware of people with a service to sell 🙂 It’s interesting that Dryad has now started to issue statistics and, to be fair, their figures will probably be more exact than the IMB, who only report on incidents logged directly with them. Whilst there is no doubt that the fight against piracy is bearing fruit, there are logical and obvious reasons for the drop off in successful attacks.
There, I said it.
I’m sure the naval coalition would love to take all the credit, and there’s no doubt that their policy of boarding local vessels and making their presence far more obvious has done much to stem the pirate tide. But we’re still talking about a huge area to patrol and limited assets. No, the real reason pirates have been unsuccessful is the simple fact that ships have had a highly visible armed response on board. Talk to any privately contracted armed security personnel (PCASP) and ask them how many warning shots they’ve had to fire. Chances are, it’ll be very few indeed, because pirates aren’t stupid and don’t want to engage in a gunfight from a wobbly skiff in a choppy sea with a group of well equipped ex-military personnel on a far more stable platform. Moreover, those same pirates have probably seen *that* “warning shots” video. These days, pirates recce the ship first to see if there’s obvious security on board, that’s why so many skiffs sighted with ladders and weapons on board turn away when an embarked armed security team holds their weapons up. They know they’re outmatched. They also know that if they can’t make a score at sea, they can revert to land-based criminality.
The problem is that the international naval force now believes the shipping industry is beginning to get the idea that they can steam without adequate protection. A conversation in January with Captain Peter Olive, EU NAVFOR Chief of Staff rammed that point home. They are doing their best to fight complacency, but it’s apparent that a great many shipping companies are hoping to ditch armed protection. We’ve already had an illustration this year of what a bad idea that is, after several attacks on ships off the Somalia coast who weren’t running armed protection. Luckily, they were able to fool the pirates by firing flares. But pirates are opportunists, and anyone who thinks they’re gone for good is effectively playing Russian roulette with their crew and ship.
It’s common sense, really. If you flood a crime-ridden area with police, those criminals will move or lay low until the police presence ends. If the shipping industry at large does decide PMSCs have had their day, we can look forward to a spate of hijackings as pirates like Isse Yuluh suddenly emerge from “retirement” to top up their pensions.