Maritime piracy in the Indo-Pacific region - ship vulnerability issues
This paper describes the current situation with piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly off the Horn of Africa and in Southeast Asia. This situation may be aggravated due to the downturn in international shipping following the global financial crisis. This has led to surplus shipping capacity, crews paid off, lower profits, and ship owners seeking to cut costs. Many ships are laid up in anchorages prone to sea robbery, and there is a risk that ships might be less well maintained and operated. This paper also explains how some ships are more vulnerable to attack than others. Sub-standard ships are more likely to be successfully attacked than quality vessels. Issues are identified that might be addressed by the shipping industry and ship owners, as well as by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). In addition to being a victim of piracy, the shipping industry could be adding to the problem by laying up ships in vulnerable areas, reducing wages and sizes of crew and employing sub-standard ships. This situation could be symptomatic of wider problems in international shipping that throw doubt on the effectiveness of current regimes for ship safety, security and marine environmental protection.