Following the report from the International Maritime Bureau announcing a drop in global piracy during the first half of 2012 there have been calls for shipping operators to avoid any temptation to relax their vigilance against the threat.
Despite the reported reduction, attacks are still common with over 210 taking place around the world so far this year. The attacks by Somali pirates have spread to an even wider region with many taking place more than 1,000 nm from the Somali coast, making it increasingly difficult for international naval forces to attend incidents in time to assist.
Maritime Security specialist Ambrey Risk, has welcomed the reduction which it says has been due to the overall increased security measures on board vessels, ongoing International Naval operations and wider contextual factors.
Business Management Director James Gasson-Hargreaves commented, “We agree that there has been some degree of success in piracy reduction from the international presence and the impact of armed security, but the number of ships passing through hazardous areas with little or no security on board is still too high. Pirates are continuing to develop new ways of avoiding the naval deterrence, while too many commercial vessels still do not implement the BMP4 (Best Management Practice for Protection Against Somali Based Piracy) measures from the IMO. These include, among other recommendations, advice on the installation of a citadel as a safe final protection for master and crew.”
Armed security professionals have been seen to make a significant difference, to the degree that no vessel protected by an armed security team has been successfully hijacked. Ambrey’s James Gasso-Hargreaves continued, “It is the intent of an armed team to deter an attack and encourage the pirates to seek an easier option and regrettably there are usually other softer targets on the ocean for pirates to attack. Fortunately to date there have been no instances of professionally protected vessels being successfully boarded.”
Piracy in the region of the Horn of Africa tends to see a drop off from June to August due to adverse weather conditions in the open ocean so it remains to be seen if the stronger security provided by the International military presence and vessels protected by armed security continues to have an effect from September onwards when piracy traditionally increases. Pirates continue to elude and develop their tactics; they are likely seeking enhanced capabilities to target vessels of a greater freeboard and speed as easier, more susceptible targets become less frequent.
Ambrey Risk is a Maritime Security companies specializing in Commercial Shipping and Oil and Gas installations with a core focus on the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.