June 4, 2010: The international anti-piracy patrol off Somalia caused a major drop in worldwide piracy attacks this year. For the first three months of this year, there were 67 piracy incidents (reported to the insurance companies), compared to 102 for the same period last year. This year, 52 percent of the piracy incidents were off Somalia. Most of the other attacks were near the Malacca Straits and surrounding countries (Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia), and off Nigeria. Most of these other attacks were basically robberies, with the pirates robbing the crew of valuables, and carrying off any portable valuables (usually electronic) they can carry in their small boats.
More worrisome is a growing trend off Nigeria, where members of the crew (usually the captain and other officers) are kidnapped and taken to nearby coastal areas controlled by criminal gangs. Only Somalia provides safe havens for pirates to park hijacked ships. But in Nigeria, there are lawless coastal areas, where kidnap victims can be held.
More attacks, either against uninsured ships (smaller coastal boats, usually), or considered to minor too bother with, are not reported. But the big ones (involving very expensive ships and cargoes) almost always are. And this is the sort of stuff the Somali pirates are after.