(Posted on 21 Nov 2008)
Maritime piracy is back in the headlines with the hijacking of the Saudi-flagged Sirius Star, along with its $100 million oil cargo and 25-man crew. Piracy remains a serious threat to life and commerce, with 199 attacks tracked by the International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Centre through the first three quarters of this year. Many more attacks, most of which take place near shore, go unreported. What follows is a list of the 8 worst pirate-infested places on earth, along with a sampling of the types of attacks that have taken place there this year.
Vietnam – 8 Attacks
The container vessel SYMH Huashan, from Antigua and Barbuda, was boarded by seven pirates armed with knives who came alongside from a wooden boat on April 1. They overcame crewmembers and stole cargo from the vessel. An official Vietnamese watchman onboard took no action to stop the pirates, and no action was taken by local police subsequent to the attack, IMB says.
Bangladesh – 9 Attacks
On April 3, the docked cargo vessel Theodor, flying a St. Vincent and Grenadines flag, was boarded by three pirates armed with long knives. The men slashed a shore-based watchman who attempted to stop them. The pirates escaped with the ship's stores.
India – 10 Attacks
Seven pirates in a 12-meter open boat approached the chemical tanker Acavus (pictured) as it rested at anchor on May 1. The men used a grappling hook to scramble up onto the vessel. A crewman on watch spotted an intruder and alerted the rest of the crew, but not before the pirates made off in their boat with stores and other property from the vessel.
Coastal Somalia – 12 Attacks
Faina, a Ukrainian-operated vessel, was overtaken by 50 armed pirates as it steamed off the coast on Sept. 25 with a cargo of Soviet-made weapons including T-72 tanks. The ship's captain died of a heart attack, and the pirates took 21 others hostage. Faina is now anchored offshore and surrounded by six U.S. Navy warships. Ransom negotiations are ongoing.
Tanzania – 14 Attacks
On Sept. 20, the Liberian container ship Safmarine Asia (pictured) was boarded by 16 pirates who came alongside in a 15-meter boat. The pirates tied up three crewmen on duty and began emptying three cargo containers. Safmarine Asia's duty officer became suspicious and sent other crew to investigate when the three crewmen stopped responding to messages. The sailors spotted the pirates, raised an alarm, and mustered the ship's crew. The pirates fled with cargo and crewmens' personal property.
Nigeria – 24 Attacks
As the Danish container vessel Claes Maersk (pictured) sat docked on April 17, it was boarded by 10 pirates who came alongside in speed boats. The crew fled to the ship's accommodations and locked themselves inside. Two shore watchmen hired for security remained absent from the scene until the pirates had left, according to IMB, and Nigerian authorities took no action after the crew reported the attack.
Indonesia – 23 Attacks
Twelve pirates in a speedboat and armed with guns, swords and iron bars assaulted the Norwegian bulk carrier Spar Cetus (pictured) as it steamed offshore on April 13. The ship's captain raised an alarm, and Spar Cetus' crew blasted the pirates with fire hoses in an attempt to hold them at bay. After a skirmish, the pirates overcame the crew and looted the vessel for 50 minutes before fleeing.
Gulf of Aden – 51 Attacks
Not only commercial vessels are vulnerable to piracy. On Sept. 2, the French yacht Carre D'as IV (pictured) was overtaken by pirates who sailed the vessel to the Somalian coast and took the couple onboard hostage. French commandos subsequently stormed Carre D'as IV and rescued the couple, killing one pirate in the process. Six other men were captured and transferred to Paris to stand trial. A Somali pirate group has since warned they will behead any Europeans they capture at sea unless the French government releases the men.