Clay Maitland

On a quest for quality in shipping

Pirates’ progress

Posted on | July 13, 2015 | No Comments

There is grim reading from the South China Seas and South East Asian waters, where piracy, which seems to have been contained although perhaps not entirely defeated in the Eastern Indian Ocean, has returned with a vengeance. Scarcely a day goes by without reports of ships being boarded, occasionally seized and emptied of their cargo. At the same time there has been an upsurge in what might more accurately be described as “maritime mugging”, with ships being boarded for the valuables of the crew, or anything else that is both moveable and marketable.

Last month there were a number of cases of robbers making off with engine room spares, which can give rise to a number of different views as to the probable destination of the spare parts. It was even suggested that with better quality bunker fuels being moved around the region, because of emission reduction, the pirates were able to move up the social scale and obtain a better reward for their efforts at hijacking ships and their cargoes.

Other suggestions revolve around the reduction in co-operation between the various coastguard and law enforcement in the South China Sea, as a result of the territorial and sea-border disputes, with the pirates cashing in on any vacuum in law enforcement that may arise from this. And, of course, while the littoral states around the Malacca Strait had been effective in combating piracy in this area once they could agree on co-operation, the pirates have learned to “work around the margins”, noting the various agreements relating to “hot pursuit” across sea boundaries and respect of sovereign waters observed by the various authorities. We should also not forget that if anything, ships have slowed down yet again, to a dawdle to save fuel in difficult market conditions, and cannot afford to speed up. That, if you are a pirate, or merely an armed robber, in eastern waters, helps enormously.

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