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Complacency a concern as piracy incidents increase

Complacency a concern as piracy incidents increase

Copenhagen: Shipowner complacency is adding to the piracy problem in the Gulf of Aden, according to a maritime security expert. Hans Tino Hansen, MD of Denmark-based RiskIntelligence, a security firm with a specialist martime service MaRisk, there is more information available on potential risks than ever before and yet the situation has never been as bad as it is today. Despite greater vigilance by some owners, 23% of all incidents are successful.  
Up to the beginning of this week, there had already been 135 attacks so far this year, according to the firm's statistics, compared with 141 over the whole of 2008. Unless things change for the better, Hansen projects that there could be as many as 314 incidents off Somalia in total this year. The number of incidents logged by the firm is higher than International Maritime Bureau figures, Hansen said, because the IMB works only off reported incidents. Not all such attacks are made public.
On the issue of complacency, Hansen admitted to being puzzled. Perhaps it is Company Security Officers' failure to distribute timely intelligence; or maybe it is a lack of decision-making. There are definitely some operators, he said, who simply decide to take a chance, sometimes even sailing the most vulnerable tonnage - slow vessels with a low freeboard - through the most dangerous waters. At least four vessels hijacked during 2009 were sailing directly into areas where warnings had been issued, according to Hansen.
Now the main concern is the move further off the coast and the use of mother ships to launch skiffs. Hansen said that if the pirates start operations in earnest east of 60° longitude, then what has become a serious regional problem becomes a critical strategic global issue. To police the west Indian Ocean in the same way as naval forces protect key transit zones in the Gulf of Aden would require "all the navies of the world", he said.
The company offers a  web-based assessment service, tracking maritime incidents around the world and offering additional analysis. So far, it has 3,000 users ranging from the large to small shipping companies, classification societies, underwriters, government agencies and offshore seismic operators. Charges vary but, for ship operators, are based on the number of vessels in operation.  [12/06/09]

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