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February 2010

Searchlight Feature - 4th February 2010

The Continuing Piracy Issue - Part 1

Much has been written over the past couple of years regarding piracy, with particular focus on activity within the Somali coast, Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean areas. Current intelligence estimates that in 2009, there were 217 attacks attributed to Somali pirates with 47 ships hijacked and 867 crew members taken hostage. This is just under double the incidents in 2008 with approximately the same number of actual hijackings. We have surmised that the reason behind the relatively static number of successful hijackings is probably a result of increased naval activity and the greater awareness of ships staff and efforts by ship owners to reduce their exposure and increasing the difficulties of pirates boarding the vessels.

A recent press release from the Hong Kong Shipowner’s Association highlights concerns that greater focus needs to be geared towards the prevention of these incidents. Whilst the international community may have increased their assets in the area there has been very little positive or effective action taken to mitigate the effect or the quantity of these attacks.

On researching various organisations with regard to their piracy policy, it would seem to us that it is those companies which have experienced vessel hijackings or attempted hijackings which seem willing to be the most proactive in respect of preventative measures, rather than those which have not been the subject of such an attack – highlighting the benefits of 20/20 hindsight and a stupefying laissez faire attitude which can surely only play to the pirates’ advantage.

Please click the below link to view the press release from the Hong Kong Shipowners Association.

www.hksoa.org/contents/attachments/2010/Somali%20Piracy.pdf