Piracy is a significant threat to the international maritime industry.
As of the 25th November 2013 there has been 234 incidents worldwide, including 12 hijackings. Many of these attacks are occurring in Kenya, Vietnam and Somalia and also in anchorage in Indonesia. The motive for the majority of these incidents is theft with items from ships spares and stores to personal belongings being stolen, but occasionally hijacking is the motive.
In the last few weeks alone, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has reported more than a dozen acts of piracy.
Whilst container ships are generally considered to be in a lower risk category of hijackings – due to their higher operating speeds and height above the water (freeboard) – there have been many incidents of hijacking and robberies on these vessels.
“Aggressive patrolling by international combined naval forces and the increase in the use of private armed security contractors on board vessels, have clearly been an effective deterrent,” says Chris Hayman, Chairman of Seatrade, organisers of Middle East Workboats and Offshore Marine. “According to Thomas Kelly, the US State Department official in charge of counter-piracy policy, four out of five container ships and tankers now deploy armed guards. Once pirates realise this, they will look for a softer target.”
The World Shipping Council believes that the use of private armed guards is one way to address the issue of piracy.