Managing piracy risks
Somali piracy might still be the foremost threat in the minds of shipowners and operators, but a glance at the incident map will show it becoming less common. According to Arild Nodland, CEO at Bergen Risk Solutions, there hasn't been a hijacking off the Somali coast since May 2012.
“Global piracy is changing,” says Nodland.
The decline in Somali piracy has been achieved by containment and deterrence tactics, Nodland explains.
With piracy moving from Somalia to the Gulf of Guinea and further offshore, the pirates’ strategies are changing.
“Nigerian pirates are using motherships. They are using some of the same methods as the Somalian pirates,” says Nodland.
Not only is there a change in the pirates’ modus operandi, but also in their choice of targets, with kidnappings taking a backseat role. Recently, there has been a rise in the number of oil-product tanker hijackings, according to Nodland. Rather than kidnapping people, pirates hijack a tanker, steal the fuel cargo, transfer it onto a local tanker and get away with it. “It’s an enormously lucrative trade,” Nodland says.
With pirates changing their game, the naval forces adapted their tactics. They moved from patrolling the Gulf of Aden and protecting the international corridor to surveying a broader area from the air to gather intelligence. This way, they can identify the location and activities of the motherships and the pirates onshore. This, explains Nodland, allows the naval forces to deploy warships in a way that denies the pirates their operational freedom.
Intelligence plays a crucial role in providing data to support efficient risk management.
It is, however, fundamental that shoreside fleet managers share the piracy information with the vessels. Nodland says even though it is common practice to do so, some owners are reluctant to share the piracy information in fear of worrying the crew.
Modern information sharing systems that utilize electronic navigational charts and multiple layers of information, such as weather and piracy data, are the way forward for managing the intelligence requirements in the shipping and offshore sector, Nodland believes.
When integrated with detailed chart, weather and wave information, a maritime security information database gives both shore and shipside management a tool that helps identify, understand and manage the piracy risks.