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Somali piracy on the increase

Aug 17, 2017

Independent, specialist risk consultancy, Control Risks, recorded 17 incidents of piracy and armed robbery attempts off the Horn of Africa by Somali pirate groups so far in 2017. This increase demonstrates the renewed intent of Somali pirates to target ships operating in the region.   

Between April and May there were five attempted hijacks of vessels, which included two cargo bulk carriers, a chemical tanker, and a combined chemical and oil tanker. There were also at least eight approaches reported by merchant vessels. This spike in incidents serves as a reminder to vessel operators, who may have drifted away from disciplined adherence to recommended best practice.  

Another flurry of incidents could accompany the improvement of sea conditions towards the end of the year and the beginning of 2018. Pirate groups seeking calmer waters may also move north to the Gulf of Oman, where at least one Somali group is suspected to have operated this year.   

Cormac McGarry, Maritime Risk Analyst at Control Risks said, “While we have recorded a limited surge in Somali pirate activity in the first half of the year, it is unlikely to span beyond its current scope. However, the increase should serve as a reminder to vessel operators and governments with naval forces in the area that the threat remains.” 

Vessels passing through the high-risk area are likely to return to the best management practice measures which were essential in reducing Somali piracy five years ago. Similarly, international naval forces whose attention may have been diverted elsewhere after the decline in 2012 will resume a closer watch in the area. 

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