News Archive

Pirates At Sea

by msecadm4921

Maritime security – of container ships and terminals – could be the growth area of 2003 now the International Maritime Organisation ( has agreed a new inspection and security regime for international shipping. See the February issue of Professional Security for more about this IMO response to the threat of terrorism. For now, we report on another worry – piracy.

The number of acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships during the first eight months of 2002, as reported to the IMO, was 228, a marginal decrease of one per cent over the figure for the corresponding period of 2001. However, comparing the figures for the first ten months of 2001 (263) with the corresponding period of 2002 (315) there was an increase of about 20pc. The total number of incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships, reported to have occurred from 1984 (when the organization began recording reports of piracy and armed robbery incidents) to the end of October 2002, had risen to 2,880.

Far East worst

Between 1 January and 31 October 2002, 12 ships had been hijacked and eight ships had gone missing. From the reports received it had also emerged that the areas most affected (five incidents reported or more) were the Far East, in particular the South China Sea and the Malacca Strait, the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean, South America (Pacific and Atlantic) and West and East Africa. Most of the attacks worldwide were reported to have taken place in territorial waters while the ships were at anchor or berthed. In many of the reports received, the crews had been violently attacked by groups of five to ten people carrying knives or guns. During the same period, four passengers and one crew member of the ships involved had been killed, two crew members and four entire crew had been reported missing and 71 crew members and 12 passengers of the ships involved had been wounded.

After 9-11

Although after the 9-11 attacks emphasis had been placed on security, the issue of piracy and armed robbery against ships continued to cast a black spot on the image of the shipping industry as a whole, according tothe IMO. The maritime community could no longer tolerate this situation and the serious repercussions it had on the security of passengers and crews and the safety of ships, not to mention the impact on the marine environment if a piracy or armed robbery incident resulted in oil or other hazardous and noxious cargoes escaping into it. The IMO urged, once again, all Governments and the industry to intensify their efforts to eradicate these unlawful acts. The IMO has an anti-piracy project. Phase one was a number of regional seminars and workshops attended by Governmental representatives from countries in piracy-infected areas of the world. In phase two, a number of evaluation and assessment missions had been made, to: Jakarta, Indonesia (13 and 14 March 2001); Singapore (15 and 16 March 2001) for countries in the South China Sea, the Malacca and Singapore Straits and the Eastern Indian Ocean; Guayaquil, Ecuador (25 and 26 September 2001) for South America and the Caribbean Sea countries; and Accra, Ghana (25 and 26 March 2002) for Western and Central African countries. Visit

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