Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pirate Attacks on Shipping Now At Highest Ever Level

But Security Measures Mean Less Success for Pirates
Shipping News Feature

Worldwide – Worldwide piracy attacks are at a record high according to the latest report from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

In their latest annual report the anti-piracy body reports that 352 attacks took place worldwide in the first nine months of 2011, with Somali pirates responsible for 199 (56%) of the total, up from 126 for the first nine months of 2010.

"Figures for piracy and armed robbery at sea in the past nine months are higher than we've ever recorded in the same period of any past year," said the IMB's director, Capt. Pottengal Mukundan.

However, despite the increase Somali pirates have only managed to hijack twenty four vessels this year compared with thirty five for the same period 2010. The IMB states that they attribute this reduction in successful attacks to more aggressive action by international naval forces, institution of effective security measures by ships crews and use of ‘citadels’ – secure areas where crews can retreat to when attacked.

The IMB also reports that Benin in West Africa has seen a surge in violent piracy, with 19 attacks leading to eight tanker hijackings this year, up from zero incidents in 2010. It is hoped that new measures being taken by the Benin government in coordination with Nigeria will see this new hotspot cooled before it can escalate further.

In the first nine months of this year pirates have taken 625 people hostage worldwide, killed eight people and injured 41.

In related Maritime Security news the US Coast Guard (USCG) has announced that they are removing the Republic of Congo from their Conditions of Entry list.

Conditions of Entry imposes security requirements on vessels arriving at the United States that visited ports in one of their last five ports of call which, in the USCG’s assessment, lack effective anti-terrorism measures.

The USCG is now satisfied that ports in the Republic of Congo now comply with effective anti-terrorism standards and vessels will no longer be penalised for visiting the country.

The current list of countries deemed to not be maintaining effective anti-terrorism measures is now: Cambodia, Cameroon, Comoros, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Iran, Liberia, Madagascar, Sao Tome and Principe, Syria, Timor-Leste, and Venezuela.