Global piracy incidents

Global Piracy Incidents

Global piracy on international shipping waters is a problem that has been occurring far more frequently in recent years. If we go back ten years ago to the turn of the millennium, piracy was thought to be consigned mostly to the history books and was almost never heard of. A mention of the word piracy would have conjured visions of swashbuckling brigands and hoards of gold hidden somewhere in the Caribbean; the word was reduced to an historical anachronism and veiled in romanticised visions. With the dramatic increase in piracy incidents that has occurred in the later part of the first decade of the 21st century this view is rapidly changing and the reality is rather different to the myth. Today’s seafarers must be aware of the dangers now present in certain areas of the world and good sources of information in this regard are professionally produced global piracy maps.

The first known piracy incidents occurred as early as 1300BC in the Mediterranean Sea. The Vikings operated in Europe up until the end of the 1st century AD and in North Africa the Barbary pirates operated from the 12th to the 19th century AD. The ‘classical’ piracy of the Caribbean, as it is sometimes known, was carried out from the 16th to the 18th century AD.

Today certain areas have been the main focus of increased piracy incidents, namely the Indian Ocean near the Somali coast and the Strait of Malacca near Singapore. Increasingly armed with automatic firearms and even rocket propelled grenades, a modern-day pirates’ main intention is usually the taking of hostages for ransom or the theft of the ship’s safe and the crew’s belongings. Shipping losses to piracy are estimated to be in the region of 15 billion US dollars annually. Modern pirates have tended to favour smaller vessels but in the past couple of years have started to target larger vessels such as the super tanker MV Sirius Star in the Indian Ocean in 2008. Also in 2008, in the same area, the MV Faina was captured and a ransom of 20 million US dollars for the release of the 20 crew and vessel was demanded. In 2009 the 17,000 tonne cargo ship MV Maersk Alabama was hijacked off the Somalia coast and the Captain of the ship was subsequently rescued successfully by the US Navy. The European Union currently has a naval operation in the Indian Ocean in force called NAVFOR Somalia to attempt to deter piracy and protect vulnerable shipping in the area.

Port data authorities can provide professional grade maps that show global piracy incidents for the previous 5 years with their location and frequency as an aid to the safer navigation of international waters.

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