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Crime on the High Seas

Maritime piracy returned from days of old to become a front-of-mind issue for governments, shipping companies, cruise lines, energy firms, global conglomerates and—perhaps most immediately—for sailors in the earliest part of the 21st Century. Since then, while some former piracy hot spots aren't as "hot" as they once were, the criminal phenomenon has persisted and spread globally.

When CNBC first examined the world's most dangerous waters in 2008, Somalian pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden and coastal Somalia easily dominated as the globe's most prolific, according to data compiled by the International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Centre. Somalia and the Gulf of Aden still have treacherous waters, but no longer the worst: Over the last five quarters, examined here, a new country's national waters have become the most heavily pirated on earth.

Also changed are the tactics used to combat piracy. National navies have become much more active in the fight against piracy, and commercial tankers and cargo vessels increasingly employ armed security—a concept that was rare and even discouraged in many maritime circles as recently as 2008.

As may be expected, however, as greater arms have come to bear against the pirates, the maritime brigands have honed their tactics and beefed up their armament as well. Read on here, have a look at the world's most pirate-infested waters, and learn about individual attacks from each area.

By Ted Kemp
Posted May 17 2013

Mohamed Dahir | AFP | Getty Images