Blog Analysismaritime piracy

Why hacker attacks are decreasing? An under-reporting of incidents?

Not all private guard teams have the same strict rules of engagement of military teams. Here the arrest of pirates by the Rotterdam in October (credit: Dutch navy)

(BRUSSELS2) You should not rely only on appearances. The drop in pirate catches is today accompanied, if we look at the official statistics, also by a drastic drop in attacks. Several days or a week can go by without an attack being recorded. Surprising in the middle of the inter-monsoon period! Where normally conditions are favorable for pirates.

The effect of combining measures

Of course, all the measures taken by the maritime community – better respect for good practices (BMP) – as well as the presence of armed guards (private or military) on approximately one vessel in three, explains this decline. Likewise, the more active and better coordinated presence of military vessels in the area may appear dissuasive. The situation on land, where the pirate logistical bases are a little shaken up by the questioning of the strongholds of the Shebab, just like the takeover in certain localities by the elders (clan leaders or elders) who are today seeing a worse eye than before these pirates, impious and arrogant, and no longer perceive as much the economic benefits for their localities, are additional factors undoubtedly of a lesser enthusiasm for the attacks. But there is one fact that I was able to confirm with experts in maritime piracy: all this does not explain the drastic drop in attacks, attacks which nevertheless seem to continue.

The attacks continue

The reality looks different: attacks are dropping but not as drastically. " He continues to have attacks at a certain volume » confirmed my interlocutor. Simply, they are “ much less reported than in the past”. There are several explanations for this, including the desire not to be looked upon negatively by insurance companies which could then increase their prices. The presence of teams of private guards on nearly one in three merchant ships was not carried out in perfect transparency... " Many companies embark private security teams on their buildings without always declaring them confirmed a senior officer who took part in European anti-piracy operations.

Not seen not caught

Some may not be completely in line » (to be kind 🙂 with the regulations in use in relation to the law of the flag which governs the vessel. Clearly we can find some of these teams on boats which have the flag of States which have banned them or not yet authorized them (thus taking advantage of this gray area) Some of these teams can also be provided by companies that are not automatically very specialized in maritime security or established in countries where control is very lax. Basically, we can find more private guards. than specialists in the world at sea. Finally, the rules of engagement of these teams are not always “ also codified » than those of the teams of “large companies”, recognized on the market (British, South African or American), and certainly more “robust” and “less careful” than those of the “VPD” military teams. Basically, “we shoot and we pass”… This is a good part of the explanation for this rate of under-declaration.

Comment: It therefore seems more than urgent today that the European Union (at least) adopts a recommendation and binding legislation in this area. We know that there is already a code of conduct for private companies (approved by more than 400 companies) monitored by the Dcaf in Geneva. And ISO experts are working on a standard for the employment of on-board private security teams. But at best these standards, undoubtedly firm and balanced, will be applied by large companies or those who value their reputation. The others, more numerous (too small or downright “rotten”), will not be required to apply them. The self-proclaimed nature of the standard has a big drawback. A European port authority (*) or a force at sea of ​​this State which takes over a company which does not apply this ISO standard cannot do anything against it. Here we find the first mistakes in maritime safety before the sinkings of the Amoco Cadiz, the Erika, the Prestige and others which forced us to move from a concept of self-applied rules to a corpus of rules and regulations. more restrictive sanctions. It might be time to realize...

(*) Réunion and Mayotte are subject to European regulations.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).