Piracy in the 21st century

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A modern pirate dhow

Piracy in the 21st century is most often associated with the actions of Somali pirates, since 2005, and the second phase of the Somali Civil War, acts of piracy in the region have risen dramatically. Since the late 20th century piracy has been consistently on the rise, between 2001 and 2005 the main piracy hotspots included the coasts of India, Indonesia, Bangladesh and West Africa.

2001-2004[edit]

In 2001 The International Maritime Organization reported over 50 acts of piracy in the first quarter of 2001, 18 of which occurred in the South China Sea, 14 in the Malacca Strait, 13 in the Indian Ocean, 4 of the coast of West Africa and 1 in the Philippines.

On New Year's Day, five fishing vessels were raided by a small group of pirates off the coast of Patharghata, Bangladesh, later in the day the same group raided ships off Manderbaria, Bangladesh. In the March the crew of the Actuaria held off three boarding attempts while docked in Chittagong, Bangladesh.

On 6 December Sir Peter Blake, prominent New Zealand yachtsman and winner of the America's Cup in 1995 and 2000, was shot and killed while defending against pirates attempting to board his 119-ft. schooner Seamaster at the mouth of the Amazon River.

In 2002, Indonesia, Bangladesh and India were ranked the top three countries with reported acts of piracy numbering 102, 32 and 18 attacks respectively. In 2003, 334 acts of piracy are reported in the first 9 months of the year, an increase from 271 of the previous year.

2004 saw around 325 acts of piracy, including 93 attacks in Indonesia and 39 in Nigeria. 30 deaths were reported in association with these acts.

Notable raids[edit]

Image Flag (owner) Name (class) Crew (cargo) Status Date of attack Coordinates
Date of release Ransom demanded
 Bangladesh Dilruba
(Fishing)
unknown
(unknown)
Attacked February 2001 unknown
n/a n/a
Boarded off Patharghata. In a gun fight leaving one crew member wounded, the pirates stole supplies worth $139,373.
 Panama Lingfield
(Tanker)
unknown
(unknown)
Attacked March 7, 2001 unknown
n/a n/a
Attacked near Bintan, Indonesia and boarded by eight pirates who, after tying up and blindfolding the ship's three senior officers, stole $11,000 from the ship's safe.
 Panama Jasper
(Cargo)
unknown
(unknown)
Attacked March 9, 2001 unknown
n/a n/a
Looted of $11,000 off the coast of Kosichang, Thailand by what was suspected to be members of a Thailand organized crime organization.
 Indonesia Inabukwa
(Cargo)
unknown
(unknown)
Attacked March 15, 2001 unknown
(2 weeks later) n/a
Boarded off the coast of Malaysia and, after marooning the crew on a nearby uninhabited island, the pirates escaped with the ship's cargo of pepper and tin ingots valued at $2,170,000. The ship was recovered by Philippine authorities two weeks later, after the pirates were arrested.
 Panama Marine Universal
(Cargo)
unknown
(unknown)
Attacked May 2001 unknown
n/a n/a
Boarded by four pirates while at an anchorage in Lagos Harbor, Nigeria. Armed with long knives they took one sailor hostage, later throwing him overboard.

2005-2010: Somali piracy[edit]

Collage of Somali pirates

2005 saw a dramatic rise in piracy off the coast of Somalia, coinciding with the second phase of that country's civil war. Pirates effectively cut the UN supply lines bringing food into the country during part of the year, hijacking at least 33 vessels.