When piracy hijacking was at its height back in 2011, over 237 attacks were being carried out.
Monday the 13th of march saw the first pirate hijacking of a maritime vessel in 5years. The Aris 13 and its crew were traveling from Djibouti to Mogadishu but took a short cut through the horn of Africa and Socotra. They were soon ambushed by Somali Pirates around 11 miles offshore by two armed ‘skiffs’.
The Sri Lankan crew of 8 managed to send out a distress signal shortly before their AIS (automatic identification system) was turned off and they changed course for the Somalian coastline.
The vessel has been found docked near the port town of Alula were the regional naval force (EU Navfor) have been in contact with Elders from the area that have asked to be given a chance to speak with the Somali Pirates first to try and talk them out of holding the crew and vessel hostage any longer.
The EU Novfor have stated that if this tactic doesn’t work they will use force to rescue the crew
In recent years Naval Patrols have been increased to deter pirates. The Somali Basin is such a vast area, that it’s very difficult for them to reach a distressed vessel in time. The people working on board the vessels have found that the biggest deterrent has been Armed Forces on board.
Neptune Maritime Security has been running armed protection teams on around 70 vessels this month as they pass through the HRA (high-risk area). In the past, Captains have gone up to 15 Knots or more and even taken evasive action to create bow waves that can sink the skiffs.
With the Maritime industry still on the fence about whether they should have constant armed guards, could this be the wake-up call they needed? Or will it spark a new era of Piracy?
Word will have begun to spread that not many vessels have armed guards on board anymore. Combine this with the situation in Somalia, where job opportunities are scarce and poverty is just as widespread as a decade ago, and you have the same key ingredients that triggered people to take this desperate act of piracy in the first place.