Piracy attacks predicted to double in 2009


The number of piracy attacks in Somalian waters have been revealed as higher than figures previously released by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) and are expected to double from last year’s figures, according to the latest research from maritime security company RiskIntelligence, reports Amy Kilpin from Oslo.

With 135 attacks to date this year, the piracy risk expert has predicted that if current levels are maintained, a total of 314 attacks are expected for 2009 – more than double that of 2008. While last year’s figures topped 141 attacks in total, the IMB’s recorded number stood at just 111, given its reliance on officially reported incidents only.

 In a shock reveal of statistical discrepancies, the maritime security company also exposed the number of piracy attacks in Nigerian waters racking up a total of 133, despite the IMB’s recorded figures standing at just 40. As the piracy issue not only becomes an even greater problem which appears not to be defeated by the rise in naval defence vessels, it is also spreading its geographical field of operation.

 Hans Tino Hansen, Managing Director and CEO of RiskIntelligence, indicated that while naval patrol vessels had been reported as having been successful in the defence of the global merchant fleet, pirates are continually expanding their operational forces. “Naval vessels deployed in the region showed positive results as pirates only had an average of 20 minutes to attack a vessel, but in the Western waters of the Indian Ocean off Somalia, they have hours, even a day, because there are less warships.”

Mr Hansen also stressed that “the area in which pirates are now operating is so extensive that all the navies in the world would be needed to monitor the Western Indian Ocean.” As the company strongly advised owners and operators to turn off their AIS when transiting through high risk areas, it stressed concern over the industry’s ignorance, given that “at least four vessels hijacked during 2009 had been sailing directly into areas where warning have been issued.”