Bad Getting Worse

Maritime Security Review
2010 was the Year of the Seafarer, with the Somali piracy epidemic worsening by the day, it seems 2011 could be the Year of the Pirate

It’s official – Somali piracy keeps reaching hitherto unimagined peaks (or troughs depending on your perspective). According to Peter Hinchliffe, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping, “It is getting worse on a weekly basis,”

“This has been going on now for about three years. During that period of time we have seen a lack of political will to deal with the problem and contain it,” said Hinchliffe, whose association represents about 80 percent of the global industry.With the problem seemingly worsening by the week and with governments lacking the political will or means to tackle the crisis, which is threatening the lives of seafarers and global supply routes it is clear something has to give.

Shippers have warned that more than 40 percent of the world’s seaborne oil supply passes through the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea and is at risk from seaborne gangs, who are able to operate ever further out to sea and for longer periods, using captured merchant vessels as motherships.

The hijacking of two oil tankers last week in the northern Indian Ocean has put the key oil transport route in the firing line.

Despite successful efforts to quell attacks in the Gulf of Aden, navies have been unable to contain piracy in the Indian Ocean, and problem which means that tanker traffic simply cannot avoid putting itself into the firing line. “We have very clearly got to the stage where ships which want to trade oil and energy up through the Arabian Gulf, there is no option now to avoid pirates in the region,” said Howard Snaith, marine director with INTERTANKO.

“They have the whole of the Indian Ocean pretty much pinned down,” said Snaith, whose members own the majority of the world’s tanker fleet.

Shipping industry officials said the human cost was also rising as according to the RSVP: Remembering Seafaring Victims of Piracy campaign there are around 800 seafarers now held captive by Somali gangs.

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