Critical to protecting national and international interests, the effective and efficient security of the maritime domain against a range of threats requires the active participation of the global maritime community, including individual governments, commercial ship owners and operators, the insurance industry, and maritime security providers. However, as each of these entities face growing pressure on their limited resources, concerns pertaining to a potential increase in maritime-related crimes, including piracy, are rising.
Between 2010 and 2012, data from the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence shows that the number of pirate hijackings near Somalia has dropped from 51 to 7, with the number of attempted boardings also falling from 119 to 24 during the same period. Yet despite a six-year low in the number of reported pirate attacks, Hans Tino Hansen, managing director of RiskIntelligence, is concerned that Somalia-based piracy could increase “if international military budget reductions force a reduction in ships patrolling in and around the Gulf of Aden.” Noting that the decline in international defense budgets, coupled with a “dramatic reduction in piracy over the past three years,” could force navies to redirect their sources away from Somalia, Mr. Hansen expects that piracy “will remain at the same level, not zero, but the same level for at least the next six months” and after that, “it will be highly dependent on what happens with the navies as well as on land in Somalia.” Citing a number of reasons for the decline in the number of attacks, including the adoption of best practices such as “moving quickly through dangerous areas, hosting armed teams on board, and ringing ships with razor wire” by ship owners, as well as the “ongoing naval patrols that deter pirate attacks,” Mr. Hansen and other experts agree that “about 40 percent of the decline in attacks could be attributed to naval patrols.”
With 11 percent of the world’s seaborne petroleum passing through the Gulf of Aden, ensuring the long-term safety and security of this integral waterway is critical to the global economy. From the viewpoint of The Mariner Group, while it may be tempting to reduce the level of resources applied to prevention, monitoring, and other aspects of ongoing vigilance in regions such as the Gulf of Aden, particularly during periods of relative calm, it’s important to acknowledge that significant threats against the maritime domain continue to exist and thus require sufficient resources to enable the prevention of undesirable events and outcomes. Moving forward, it will be imperative for nations and law-abiding enterprises to work together to provide the necessary resources to secure the maritime domain as part of a larger strategy of protecting national and international interests.