"Shock" incidents blight falling piracy rate

By Joseph R. Fonseca
Tuesday, April 08, 2014

A UK maritime intelligence provider Dryad Maritime released its Q1 maritime crime figures which show an overall downturn in incidents across the Horn of Africa, the Gulf of Guinea and Southeast Asia since the same period last year. However, Dryad Maritime caution 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 a subsequent theft of 13,000 tons of gasoil off the Niger Delta, has demonstrated the increasingly  significant 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.

Ian Millen, Dryad Maritime’s Director of Intelligence, 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. 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 Q1 2013 to 15 in Q1 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” adds Ian.

Across the waters of Southeast Asia, again the data highlights a decrease in reported maritime crime, with incidents dropping from 41 in Q1 2013 to 31 in Q1 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 at 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” continues Ian.

To reflect the changing landscape of maritime crime and at the request of our clients Dryad have now revised their range of support to the industry. Their new package of services has been named PRISM – Professional Risk & Integrated Services Management - and offers clients an enhanced understanding of their available services and the levels of support recommended for different risk environments. It also provides a clearer picture on pricing, helping clients to manage their costs better.

Karen Jacques, Dryad Maritime’s Chief Operating Officer; “The market is ever changing and although the level of risk appears to be decreasing in some locations it is still prevalent in others. Through the launch of PRISM we are offering customers a broad range of options, dynamically tailored to a vessels’ specific and current need, which challenges the traditional full dependence upon armed guard services. PRISM offers the ability to make informed decisions on the level and type of support required by providing a comprehensive risk analysis package. The service allows increased flexibility and fluidity to assess risk relevant to a vessels specific journey and to adapt quickly to changing situations in order to provide the most  appropriate but also the most cost effective support options for the route.”

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