According to a just-released report by the London-based International Maritime Bureau, incidents of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and elsewhere have fallen substantially this year — in fact, to the lowest level in five years.
While this is potentially excellent news for would-be circumnavigators, it’s our understanding that virtually no cruising yachts passed through the Gulf last year en route to the Red Sea. Still, the trend is very encouraging.
The Bureau reports that 297 attacks were recorded worldwide in 2012, down sharply from 439 the previous year. Twenty-eight vessels were hijacked, 585 crew members were taken hostage, and six were killed. In waters off the Somali coast and the Gulf of Aden, only 75 attacks were reported — down from a whopping 237 in 2011. And only 14 of those resulted in hijacking, which is about half the 2011 tally. At the end of last year, Somali pirates still held 104 hostages on eight ships and 23 more were detained on land.
Why such a substantial reduction? The Bureau credits the efforts of various navies patrolling both Gulf and African waters — where piracy remains a serious problem — including pre-emptive strikes on mother ships, in addition to the ever-increasing practice of commercial vessels hiring private security contingents to accompany them.