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he number of attacks on commercial shipping by pirates has
tripled in the last decade, with the rise of high-profile incidents
escalating into what has become a substantial global threat.
The situation in piracy hotspots, particularly the sea lanes from
the Strait of Malacca and Singapore across the Indian Ocean to
the Gulf of Aden and the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, has reached a critical
point, pushing anti-piracy solutions to the top of the international maritime
With over ninety per cent of global trade taking place on the oceans
including the transportation of vital cargo including gas and oil - the
safe passage of vessels through trouble spots is vital, and pressure on the
shipping industry to find a suitable anti-piracy solution is growing.
ASSESSING THE PROBLEM
In 2009 there were over 400 pirate attacks reported worldwide. Media
attention has focussed mainly on the rising number of reported seizures
off the coast of Somalia where the problem has escalated as chronic
political and security problems have worsened in recent years. The absence
of governmental authority, paired with growing links to international
terrorism, has created a situation that is now presenting an ever-increasing
threat to international security.
The pirates in the Somali area are becoming more organised and violent
and carried out a total of 178 attacks throughout 2009. The biggest problem
facing the development effective counter-measures technology is the
fact that pirates are using increasingly deadly weapons, including rocket-
propelled grenades and automatic weapons to attack commercial vessels.
Meanwhile the question of arming civilian ships remains a vexed issue.
Solving the problem is also made more difficult by the fact that many
nations that rely on international trade for the sustainment of their
economy do not have the assets to protect their own cargo vessels within
SEARCHING FOR A
Claire Apthorp / London
There are a number of technologies being
developed for military and civilian maritime users
that provide effective and economical answers to
increasingly bold and violent aggressors.
Royal Marines embarked aboard the Royal Navy frigate HMS Portland investigate two suspected pirate skiffs in the Gulf of Aden.
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