The Strait of Malacca Blues

Straits of Malacca causing concern for observers.

Sea Transportation: The Strait of Malacca Blues

The international effort to suppress Somali piracy halted and reversed the increased piracy off the coast of Somalia but at the same time there has been a major increase in attacks in the Straits of Malacca. Big as in a sevenfold increase from 2009 to 2013 (when there were 150 attacks). There was also a jump (to 50 attacks a year) off Nigeria.

The big difference is that it was only off Somalia that ships and crews be taken and held for ransom for long periods. Everywhere else the pirates were usually only interested in robbing the crew and stealing anything portable that they could get into their small boats. Off the Nigerian coast pirates occasionally take some ship officers with them to hold for ransom.

Another tactic is to turn off tracking devices and force the crew to move small tankers to remote locations where most of the cargo (of oil) can be transferred to another ship and later sold on the black market. But that sort of thing requires a lot of organization, nerve and luck. So most of the attacks are armed robbery. Given the amount of portable electronics on a seagoing ship (both company and personal), a half dozen armed pirates can net several thousand dollars per ship hit. There are fences on shore who pay cash for this stuff and quickly move it out of the country.

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