Analysis of Somali Pirate Activity in 2009 Released

Mike Schuler
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May 5, 2009


UNOSAT, the UN Institute for Training and Research‘s (UNITAR) Operational Satellite Applications Programme, has recently released a report focusing on a geographical analysis of piracy in 2009.  The UNOSAT program delivers satellite solutions to relief and development organisations within and outside the UN system to help make a difference in the life of communities exposed to poverty, hazards and risk, or affected by humanitarian and other crises.

The report contains a detailed spatial analysis of the dramatic upsurge of pirate activity in 2009, focusing on changes in attack locations within the Gulf of Aden, changes in the attack success rate by month as well as on the unprecedented expansion of attacks in the Indian Ocean.


  • The overall pirate hijacking success rate for 2009 (vessel hijackings / total attacks) is currently at 23%. This is significantly lower than the average in 2008 of 40% and is likely due to the increased naval patrols and heightened security practices of the merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden.
  • Despite this relative decline in the pirate success rate, there is an alarming increase in the absolute number of pirate attacks and an unprecedented expansion of pirate activity in the Indian Ocean, constituting a new phase of Somali piracy.
  • There have been a total of 19 successful hijackings and 81 reported pirate attacks in 2009, an increase of over 650% from the same period last year. If this attack rate is sustained, it will easily surpass the record number of attacks (115) in 2008 and could climb above 200 attacks in 2009.


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