Pirate attacks in South Asia rise by 197%

Traditionally, pirates are renowned for targeting waters around the coast of Somalia. But new data indicates piracy attacks are decreasing in this region, and increasing in key international shipping routes near South East Asia and Indonesia.

As a result of this shift, we’re seeing more commercial vessels, cruise ships and private vessels seeking protection against the possibility of a pirate attack.

The data

The number of recorded pirate attacks has risen significantly in the waters surrounding Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.

  • Between 2009 and 2013, attacks in the region have risen by 197.6% (from 42 to 125 reported attacks*).
  • In the same period of time, the number of attacks in Somalia and the Gulf of Aden has decreased by 93% (from 197 to 13 reported attacks*).

* Data sourced from the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau.

Why the shift?

The comparative shift in piracy attacks between these international shipping regions is two-fold:

  1. There is now a strong police presence around the waters of Somalia, which makes it more difficult for pirates to attack passing vessels.
  2. Increased trade between Europe and China has made shipping routes through South East Asia and Indonesia busier than ever. (These routes account for 1/3 of global shipping trade.)

An estimated 130,000 vessels come to Singapore every year, which means 1 ship every 4 minutes enters the strait. Even though most ships make their way without issue, the data clearly indicates that piracy is a real and rising threat.

What does this mean for me?

As a consumer, you’re impacted by piracy more than you realise.

  • Global piracy costs shipping companies an estimated $4.9 billion to $8.3 billion per year. (According to the US Merchant Marine.)
  • These costs are a result of lost cargo, increased insurance costs, longer shipping times, compensating affected crews, as well as litigation and associated fees.
  • Fuel costs are also increased, as ships are encouraged to cruise faster in pirate-prone areas. This is because pirates prefer their targets ‘low and slow.’
  • Increased cruising speed (from 12.8 to 17.9 knots) can add up to $88,000 in fuel costs (for one ship per day).
  • All of these costs are eventually absorbed by you, the consumer, especially considering that 90% of international trade occurs via sea. (According to the UN International Maritime Organisation.)

What if I sail in these waters?

Whether you’re in the regions of Singapore, Malaysia or Indonesia in a personal or commercial capacity, you are at risk of piracy.

The terror and trauma of being high jacked by pirates is unimaginable.

For this reason, it is somewhat relieving to note that pirates in and around South Asia typically prefer to get in and out of a vessel quickly. Their ultimate goal is to make money by selling high value items on board, rather than ransoming crew.

Want to know more?

For more information about piracy in South Asia, and detailed insights into how to respond to a pirate attack, we recommend visiting this link.