While it's only the most the reckless (and silent) cruising sailor who dares brave the Gulf of Aden or any Somali waters these days, commercial ships are still transiting the dangerous zone. So it is the experiences of these trading vessels that can guide us about when the danger might be gone - and it's not.
UK maritime intelligence provider, Dryad Maritime, has this week released its Q1 maritime crime figures which show an overall downturn in incidents across the Horn of Africa, the Gulf of Guinea and Southeast Asia since the same period last year. However
, Dryad Maritime caution that ‘shock’ incidents and evolving criminal trends remain a very real threat.
According to Dryad, the overall statistics show a 13% reduction in crime, but ‘shock’ incidents such as the kidnap and ransom of seafarers still present real and credible threats; six seafarers are still believed to be in captivity in Nigeria.
Ian Millen, Dryad Maritime’s Director of Intelligence, says,'This analysis gives cause for concern and serves as a reminder to all seafarers to remain vigilant and employ appropriate risk reduction measures in all high risk areas.
Maritime criminals, from those off Nigeria to Somali pirates and those that operate in the archipelago of Southeast Asia remain very much in business and are capable of inflicting misery on seafarers. The first line of defence is to be aware of their presence and take measures to ensure that their criminal activities are countered'.
In the Horn of Africa, reported incidents appear to have risen from 9 in Q1 2013 to 15 in Q1 2014, but Dryad analysts attribute part of this data to a misinterpretation of events such as the mis-identification of regional fishermen in the Southern Red Seaand off the coast of Oman. However, Dryad cautions against complacency, as a number of the reported incidents occurred are the result of Somali piracy.
'Somali pirates have not been totally eradicated. Armed attacks against MT Nave Atropos, south of Salalah in January and the Kenyan vessel, MV Andrea, close to the Somali coast in February have proved that broad containment of the threat does not mean it has been removed. On both occasions, the Somali attackers were only repelled by embarked armed security teams on the vessels concerned' adds Ian.
Across the waters of Southeast Asia, again the data highlights a decrease in reported maritime crime, with incidents dropping from 41 in Q1 2013 to 31 in Q1 2014. However, Dryad analysts note the incidents that have been logged possibly indicate a new modus operandi with criminals demonstrating a trend towards robbery from vessels underway in the Singapore Strait rather than at boarding those anchor.
'The Singapore Strait has attracted attention with a number of vessels boarded for robbery in the first quarter of the year; a spate of attacks that has coincided with a reduction of incidents in the anchorages off Pulau Nipah, possibly signalling a change of modus operandi for criminal gangs who may have shifted attention to boarding vessels that are underway' continues Ian.
For additional information on Dryad Maritime’s new PRISM service visit: http://www.dryadmaritime.com/prism/ About Dryad Maritime:
• Dryad Maritime is a specialist maritime intelligence company helping seafarers to quantify, mitigate and manage the threats from piracy, terrorism and other waterborne threat and crime. The predictive nature and practical application of Dryad’s intelligence enables seafarers to make planning and operational decisions that safeguard their safety as well as their commercial operations.