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December 22nd, 2011

Changing Pirate Tactics Challenge Maritime Industry

The international community has intensified efforts to prevent pirate attacks, and it is not surprising to see that pirates have been changing tactics  to keep pace too.

Typically, pirate attacks slump during the monsoon season. However, this year, the International Maritime Bureau has issued a statement warning seamen and shipping companies of the continued danger from pirate attacks during the monsoon.

Another trend that shipping companies and maritime attorneys have noticed is pirates attacking in swarms or gangs. Some such swarm attacks took place off the coast of Eritrea earlier this year. These swarm attacks involve a number of pirate skiffs attacking a single vessel.

According to reports filed with the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Center, on August 7, twelve pirate skiffs, each of them containing about eight to ten pirates attacked a bulk carrier off the coast of Eritrea. When armed security guards on the vessel fired at the skiffs, many of the pirates aborted the attack. However, two pirate skiffs chased the carrier for at least half an hour, returning fire at the armed guards until they too suspended their attack.

This points to an alarming new trend involving larger numbers of pirate skiffs trying to wear down a vessel’s defenses. A similar such incident was reported on August 10, and involved a Panamanian-flagged tanker. The vessel was pursued by pirates on a total of twelve skiffs. The vessel managed to evade the pirates by firing flares.

The international maritime industry must take into account the changing nature of pirate attacks, and modify strategies to deal
with these.

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