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No Somali attacks in 2015 but no room for complacency, industry warns

No Somali attacks in 2015 but no room for complacency, industry warns
Gulf of Aden and Somali pirate attacks in the Indian Ocean evaporated in 2015, International Maritime Bureau (IMB) findings indicate, with the majority of the 246 recorded attacks instead taking place in Asia.

Although no Somali‐based attacks were reported in 2015, Ralf Nagel ceo of the German Shipowners’ Association (VDR) today issued a statement warning against shipowner complacency.

“The threat posed by piracy at the Horn of Africa is like a smouldering fire: the presence of naval forces in the Gulf of Aden and the surveillance operations from the air – combined with the safeguards put in place by the shipowners – are proving to be successful in depriving the criminals in Somalia of oxygen. The moment this level of protection is lowered, the flames will flare up again."

IMB director Pottengal Mukundan, too, warned that, "It will only take one successful hijacking to undo all that has been done, and rekindle this criminal activity.”

While piracy has tapered off on the Eastern side of the continent, West Africa continues to be a hotspot, with 14 attacks reported off Nigeria, nine boardings, and one seafarer killed. Here, hostage-taking and oil theft are the preferred tactics, with kidnappings more than doubling to 19 from nine in 2014. "The region does not have the benefit of reliable protection by the navies and coast guards of the neighbouring states. Moreover, shipping companies are not permitted to protect their vessels using their own security forces, as the coastal states there will not allow it," noted VDR.

“The German federal government must make urgent representation via the EU for the coastal states along the Gulf of Guinea to allow private armed security guards on board our ships,” said Nagel. “In addition, the provision of reliable assessments of the situation and a cross-border exchange of information also constitute vital support measures. The efforts already in place must receive greater backing, also by Germany.” The successful cooperation among the coastal states along the Strait of Malacca in Southeast Asia – a hotspot for armed raids on mostly smaller vessels – could serve as a model.”

However, the lion’s share of attacks took place off Indonesia, where pirates attacked 108 vessels, successfully boarding 94. Overall boardings worldwide, also, rose 11% to 203.

Throughout Southeast Asia, Mukundan noted, attacks on moving vessels rose to 55% from 37% in 2014, where previously the majority of attacks took place at designated anchorages. In Indonesia, IMB reports, intervention by the Marine Police has reduced these, with only Belawan and Nipah anchorages recording marked increases in attempted thefts, with 15 and 26 incidents respectively. “IMB particularly commends the robust actions taken by the Indonesian and Malaysian authorities in the arrest and prosecution of two gangs that hijacked tankers,” said Mukundan. “We also applaud the subsequent arrest of some of the alleged masterminds.”