Dryad Maritime's COO, Ian Millen says that when looking at the volume of maritime crime and piracy events, the numbers drive you toward Southeast Asia.
With a 10% rise in 2015 incidents, when compared to 2014, the area leads the crime league table. It’s worth noting that much of the reported crime is of the less serious type (eg. theft of ships’ stores etc), but this does sit alongside more serious vessel hijack for the purposes of refined product cargo theft – and we saw a spate of this last year.
The good news is that much of the more serious criminal activity occurred in the first three quarters of 2015, with the final quarter showing crime levels falling back to the levels of 2009.
Credit goes to the Malaysian and Indonesian authorities and their partners who have more effectively clamped down on the criminals involved.
We have recently witnessed the first hijack of a tanker for its fuel cargo in the Gulf of Guinea
in 2016, following what was a quiet year in Gulf of Guinea crime
in 2015. This was, unusually, brought to a good outcome by the Nigerian Navy who intervened to retrieve the tanker and its crew over 300 miles offshore.
Of more concern to us, and for the crews operating in the Gulf of Guinea, is the criminal enterprise of kidnap for ransom off the Niger Delta.
Whilst the crew members are released after ransoms have been paid, we are seeing far too many vessels boarded by force and their crew members taken ashore.
In the last few days, we have seen the Nigerian Navy involved in the aftermath of another kidnap incident off the Niger Delta. The worry here is that the navies in West Africa don’t appear able to deter maritime criminals beyond their own territorial waters.
Somali piracy has been broadly contained, although the attack and detention of Iranian fishing vessels off the Somali coast has given some cause for concern. We do not believe that these attacks signal an impending return to full scale Somali piracy, but instead a response to alleged illegal fishing activities.
That said, the demonstrated capability at significant range in some cases, reminds us of the need to maintain vigilance when transiting the waters adjacent to Somalia. All it takes is a complacent ship and a few lucky pirates to reverse the good work that has been done and put more seafarers back in peril.
The situation in Yemen and the naval blockade along the country’s maritime borders mean that normal trade is severely limited and all vessels need to consider the dire situation on the ground, as well as the restrictions imposed by the Saudi-led coalition.
The Mediterranean Sea is also very complex at present, with the flow of desperate people, fleeing across the sea to Europe
, having a significant impact upon maritime activities.
Whilst this is primarily a humanitarian crisis, ships’ crews continue to be involved in assisting the regional rescue authorities and, in some cases, can be exposed to some risk. Balanced against the risk of innocent lives being lost at sea, this is thankfully a risk that continues to be managed by those involved. (Excerpts fom the Interview of Ian Millen by CSO Alliance. Used with the permission of CSO Alliance’ http://www.csoalliance.com/page/26113-news