We’ve linked to cargo and maritime piracy incidents fairly frequently on this site. As I have mentioned before, maritime piracy is alive and well, if seriously under reported in the media, and don’t expect a charismatic, quirky Johnny Depp or a skull and crossbones sail: today’s pirates utilize heavy and light machine guns, RPGs, and very fast vessels. They won’t hesitate to kill a hostage if their demands aren’t met. Piracy has been on the rise over the past couple of years, particularly in and near the waters of Somalia and off the East Africa coast.
With that in mind, according to this report in gulfnews.com from a marine consultant in Dubai 2008 could be worse:
In the weekly report to be issued today, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said that its Reporting Centre had recorded details of 26 actual and attempted attacks so far this year for Somali waters, with “many” more attacks that may have gone unreported. There are reports of the use of automatic weapons being fired at ships to stop them and occasionally, pirates have used RPGs.
Some Somali pirates are believed to be using ‘mother vessels’ to launch attacks a significant distance from the coast – a particular threat to vessels on passage in the shipping lanes that might be considered to be far from the shoreline. The eastern and northeastern coasts of Somalia continue to be the highest risk areas for attacks and hijackings.
…in parallel with that trade expansion, an increase in organised crime has been seen which together with terrorism does produce a threat to shipping that cannot be ignored.
As long as a polarised global scenario exists, the conditions that promote lawlessness will prevail to be exploited by the criminal elements and with respect to impoverished coastal states, without international intervention to protect the world fleet from sailing in safety, the menace of piracy will persist….
Read the whole thing, a very good fact-based analysis of the current situation.