The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has warned foreign vessels to remain vigilant when sailing in the Horn of Africa, despite a lull in piracy incidents in the region.
The IMB stated that there had been no piracy incidents reported off the Somali coast between January and March 2016 due to the deployment of warships to prevent such attacks.
However, it warned Somali pirates still had the capacity to carry out attacks in the region and that one successful hijacking could see a resurgence of piracy in the Horn of Africa.
According to the IMB, Somali pirates were still holding some 29 crewmembers for ransom as of 31 March.
Protection Vessels International (PVI) Analysis points out that the announcement comes after the Indian Navy announced it had foiled a pirate attack 800 nm off Mumbai in the western Arabian Sea, underscoring the continued importance of a military presence in the High Risk Area.
Somalia’s onshore insecurity and the ongoing presence of safe havens where pirates can operate mean Somali pirates maintain capabilities and local support to conduct activities in the region.
According to Oceans Beyond Piracy, a privately funded NGO based in the US, some 16 vessels were attacked by pirates in 2015, comprising five dhow hijackings, nine suspected incidents, one attempted hijacking and one robbery.