Fight Piracy – Intelligently

Knowing where and when pirates strike is half the battle.

Fight Piracy – Intelligently

By Geir Lyngheim Olsen

While global piracy is constantly changing, modern technology adapts to exploit the weaknesses in the pirates’ mode of operation. Intelligence gained from such technologies enables voyage planners and navigators to steer clear of harm – but what kind of information is required? While the image of the Somalian pirate is still high in the public’s mind as the number one piracy threat, the reality is not as straightforward.

Pirates have had to change their tactics in the last few years, with a geographical expansion to the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea, including the waters off Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Benin, Togo, Cameroon and Lagos. However, pirates are not shy of extending their roaming to Angola and Congo and seizing opportunities arising from political instability in Syria, Egypt and Libya. Beyond these areas, from India and Indonesia to Peru and the Philippines, piracy is still a threat.

This geographical expansion is just one reaction to the presence of the Navy task forces around the Gulf of Aden. Another is their use of “mother ships” operating from calm and open sea areas such as in the South Atlantic. Beyond this, pirates no longer limit themselves to hostage taking and ransom demands, expanding their repertoire to stealing high-value cargo from oil or gas tankers. Offshore installations, around Nigeria for instance, have also become an attractive target, as have support vessels. Many platforms and small vessels used for crew transfer remain unprotected and can be easy prey.

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