In light of recent game changing piracy tactics observed far off Somalia’s east coast, industry experts are calling for the increase of naval patrols in the Indian Ocean. The International Maritime Bureau, the industry’s watchdog and most respected source of the latest maritime security information, reports:
March 2009 has seen a spike in pirate activity off east-coast Somalia, as reported to the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre.
By the end of the month, 15 such attacks on vessels had been reported for March 2009. In January and February this year there were, respectively, zero and two attempted attacks off the east coast of Somalia. This increase is contrary to the recent trend, which had seen pirates focusing on the Gulf of Aden.
IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan commented: “This is a worrying development, as there does not appear to be a decline in the attempted attacks off Somalia. The pirate gangs proved a while ago that they can operate hundreds of miles off the Somali coast, launching their attacks off mother ships which appear to be fishing trawlers or dhows. The recent attacks off the east coast in the past three months confirms the need for merchant vessels to remain alert as they sail in these waters. The IMB is recommending that unless vessels are calling into ports along the East African coast they stay as far off the coast as reasonably practical.”
The Bureau further calls for an increase in naval patrols in the region but, considering the limits of their success in defending convoys transiting the significantly smaller Gulf Of Aden, is this request within the naval task force’s ability?