Sea Transportation: Pirates Driven Off

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August 10, 2006: The piracy threat is retreating, About 70,000 vessels transit the vital Straits of Malacca each year. While the incidence of piracy has never actually very high (during the "worst" period in recent years well under 0.1-percent of ships in the Straits were attacked), it did grab a lot of headlines, particularly given global concerns about terrorists. This led Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore to initiate a well-coordinated anti-piracy program, which is being supported by many other southeast Asian countries, as well as the U.S. and other major maritime powers. This, coupled with increased security measures by ship-owners (some of whom have been training their crews in anti-piracy techniques, often using specialized equipment and occasionally weapons), the December 2004 tsunami, which appears to have devastated some pirate bases, and the end of the separatist movement in the Aceh region of Sumatra, has resulted in reducing the incidence of piracy to about one vessel in every 10,000. Moreover, all recently reported incidents have clearly been attempts to steal money or goods, almost always from smaller vessels, notably fishing boats and coastal freighters serving the smaller ports.
Off Somalia, increased naval patrols, and a changing political situation on land, has much reduced Somali pirate activity. In the Persian Gulf, more police and coat guard activity has reduced piracy there as well.

 


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