19 June 2017

Security Consultants Warn Container and Cargo Ships of Increased Pirate Activity off Somalia  

More Raids Expected as Weather Improves

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Shipping News Feature WORLDWIDE – Security analysts and consultants group Control Risks has reported that 17 incidents of piracy and armed robbery attempts off the Horn of Africa by Somali pirate groups have been perpetrated so far this year. The group warns that they believe that this increase demonstrates the renewed intent of Somali pirates to target container, cargo and passenger ships operating in the region.

Between April and May there were five attempted hijacks of vessels, which included two cargo bulk carriers, a chemical tanker, and a combined chemical and oil tanker. There were also at least eight approaches reported by merchant vessels. Control Risks state that this spike in incidents serves as a reminder to vessel operators to not reduce security measures and best practices on their vessels.

The group anticipates that further incidents could accompany the improvement of sea conditions towards the end of the year and beginning of 2018. Pirate groups may also move north to the Gulf of Oman, where at least one Somali group is suspected to have operated this year, seeking calmer waters and bidding to avoid the attention of the protective navy programmes such as EU Navfor Atalanta. Cormac Mc Garry, Maritime Risk Analyst at Control Risks said:

“While we have recorded a limited surge in Somali pirate activity in the first half of the year, it is unlikely to span beyond its current scope. However, the increase should serve as a reminder to vessel operators and governments with naval forces in the area that the threat remains.

“The combined efforts of individual vessel operators along with renewed military focus will stem the expansion of this threat. A caution however that individual, one off incidents are likely to continue to take place if onshore push factors remain unchanged.”

Locally the accusations persist that overfishing by foreign fleets is one of the main drivers for this type of activity, There is no doubt that the pirates transport of choice, the open skiff, is the very same vessel traditionally used by those manning the Somali coastal fishing fleets, many of whom say it is not worth venturing out to sea these days to follow their chosen trade.

Photo: EU Navfor personnel interview a Somali fishing crew.

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