Pirates are continuing to improve their tactics and expand their areas of operation. Piracy in the Indian Ocean region extends from the Red Sea/Gulf of Aden south to the Seychelles Islands and East to India. Pirate attacks are continuing to increase off the west Coast of Africa neat Benin and Nigeria and the number of attacks continues to rise in the South China Sea. Pirates have attempted to attack every type of ship from sailing vessels to large yachts to cargo and cruise ships. Pirate tactics are also changing. Recently pirates tried a swan attack on a cargo vessel using 12 small boats with 5-8 people in each small boat. The attack was unsuccessful but now demonstrates a new sophistication in tactics along with a new level of coordination between potential pirate organizational groups. Pirates have not yet been successful in hijacking a cruise ship. There have been a couple reported attacks against cruise ships. The M/S Nautica was the near victim of an attempted attack in the Gulf of Aden near Kenya. The only reason the ship was not hijacked by pirates was because the captain was able to outrun the pirate’s speed boats. Pirates also attempted to hijack the cruise ship Seaborne Spirit on November 5th, 2005. The Spirit used a sound device that repelled the pirate attack. Cruise ships typically are not good targets because of their higher transit speeds and limited boarding locations.
Professional maritime security companies provide vessels of all types with an added layer of defense against pirate attacks and other unwanted boardings and are a must when transiting piracy prone areas worldwide. There was a successful attack and hijacking reported against a vessel with a security team onboard. However the security team was unarmed and was unable to protect the vessel from the attack. If mariners plan to bring security onboard to protect the vessel, you are wasting your money and putting your crew in greater danger if you use an unarmed team.
There are numerous companies worldwide that profess expertise in maritime security, but do not have any background or experience in the industry. When searching for a maritime security company, research their background and experience in the maritime security and law enforcement (public or private) and their shipboard procedures for their team members and the ship’s crew. Also obtain a profile of each team member who will be coming onboard your vessel so you understand the background of who is protecting your ship. Most experienced companies will have profiles on all of their personnel plus a basic standard operating procedure for both their personnel and the ship’s crew. An experienced company will be an asset while an inexperienced security company will be a liability to your vessel and crew.