What is Maritime Piracy?
Maritime Piracy has undergone a massive surge in recent years, both in terms of the threat and in terms of the number of vessels actually attacked and/or pirated. This has been despite significant efforts by the International Maritime Organisations (IMO) and various individual governments. Whilst the piracy success rate in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden has decreased, primarily owing to the actions of Private Maritime Security companies such as AMSS, the on-going threat shows absolutely no signs of diminishing. Furthermore, attacks in such places as West Africa /Gulf of Guinea and in the Malacca Straits / South China Sea are still growing in number.
Regrettably, maritime piracy is a fast growing business and there are known to be between 30 and 60 piracy training camps located throughout the world. Modern day pirates often operate off the coasts of poor less-developed countries, which have little or no modern infrastructure in place, such as Somalia.
Most piracy targets are commercial vessels or larger private yachts, especially those with very high value cargoes. These vessels and their crews can be held at ransom for many months and usually for many millions of dollars. The latest information available states average ransoms being paid for commercially pirated vessels in recent years were between $5 and $10million.
How pirates attack
Pirate groups attack vessels in a number of different ways, which may depend upon their individual levels of experience. One common denominator is the use of small, fast craft (known as skiffs) which are often deployed from a mother ship sailing in relatively close proximity to a targeted vessel. However, there have also been sightings of skiffs hundreds of miles off-shore without the aid of a mother ship. There may be between one and six skiffs deployed for a single attack on a merchant vessel.
The attack itself normally lasts for only a short period of time. The ultimate aim of the pirates is to intimidate the ship by circling it in skiffs and using medium to heavy weapons to fire at the ship, hoping for an easy surrender.
If they are not prevented from closing in to the side of the vessel, the pirates will attempt to board at the vessel's lowest and easiest point. If successful in boarding, they will then usually take control using extreme levels of violence or threats of violence. It has been reported that pirates are often under the influence of drugs, making them exceptionally unpredictable and dangerous.
Once firmly onboard, the pirates will then take the crew hostage and contain them in a secure part of the vessel. After taking complete control, the pirates will usually sail the vessel as quickly as possible to one of Somalia’s pirate coastal towns, such as Eyl. There, they will decide whether to take their hostages ashore or to keep them on the vessel until the ransom is agreed and paid.
To avoid the threat of piracy, discover more about our maritime security services by contacting us on-line or by calling + 44 1244 893 163 today.