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Stimson Analysis: Indian Ocean Piracy Developments

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The following is an excerpt from Rupert Herbert-Burns‘ analysis of Piracy and Hijacking Developments in the Indian Ocean, part one of Stimson’s ongoing Maritime Security Briefing series.

“The first quarter of 2012 paints a somewhat confusing picture with regard to the state of piracy threat in the high risk areas (HRA) of the Indian Ocean. Initially, given the low level of attacks for the first six weeks of 2012, it seemed the threat against merchant shipping had receded dramatically. However, though there were even fewer attacks in February, two hijackings of merchant vessels within a week of one another raised alarms amongst shipping companies and naval commands, and warnings to be prepared for more attacks were sent out. Nevertheless, compared to the same period in 2011, the threat of piracy attacks has indeed greatly diminished, and there has also been a notable reduction in the number of successful hijackings.

“In all of the attacks and hijackings in Q1, pirates have continued use of aggressive fire-for-effect tactics – assault rifle fire at the bridge and superstructure followed (where possible) by attempted boarding. However, the widespread use of armed security teams on board merchant vessels – many of which have been forced to return fire to deter attacks and boarding attempts – has made life difficult for the piracy attack groups (PAGs), particularly in the Gulf of Aden. To date, the only hijackings in and around the internationally recognized transit corridor (IRTC) have been trading and fishing dhows, which are highly vulnerable to hijacking as they are rarely hardened against boarding and cannot evade attackers that approach in high-speed skiffs. It is likely that several of the dhows hijacked so far this year are still being used as motherships, given the lack of merchant vessel motherships available to the pirates.”

To read more and download the full analysis, click here.


Photo Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Jason R. Zalasky via Wikimedia Commons, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Combined_Task_Force_151_-_090212-N-1082Z-066.jpg

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