How bad did the piracy get?

Location of reports of encounters with Somali pirates, 2008-12

These maps of the Somali piracy epidemic were created using data available from the IMB-PRC. Each red dot indicates a report from a ship of a pirate encounter, including a hijack. The blue dots indicate where a pirate attack was repelled by naval intervention. The yellow dots indicate a report of a pirate encounter when armed guards were onboard a ship.

In 2008, most reports were clustered in the Gulf of Aden showing the piracy problem was confined to the shipping channel in this region. While informal intervention from various navies active in the region occurred at this time, the few blue dots reflect how only in December 2008 did the United Nations authorise a formal naval intervention. The absence of yellow dots shows how few ships carried armed guards at this time.

In 2009, many of the world's navies responded to the UN's authorisation of intervention, including from the European Union, the United States, China, Russia, Malaysia and Australia. The navies were confined to the major shipping channel of the Gulf of Aden and as a result, the pirates began to push out into the Indian Ocean. Other regional pirates outside of Puntland began operations.

In 2010, despite the presence of a concerted naval effort, reports showed no sign of diminishing. In true pirate tradition, the pirates pushed further away from the authorities trying to control them. Frustrated ship-owners were beginning to place armed guards on their ships.

In 2011, the number of reports made reached its crescendo, but the number of successful hijacks had significantly diminished. Almost two-thirds of ships travelling in the region employed armed guards onboard. The navies' successful efforts at intervention remained largely unchanged. 

By 2012, reports dropped significantly and by 2013, no ship was hijacked by Somali pirates and the epidemic was over.

Reports of Somali pirate encounters and ships held for ransom, 2007-12

Maritime crime trends from 1993-2012

Global piracy.jpg

Like to know something else? Email me at info@somalipiracy.net