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German shipowners worried about pirates

Caption: Martin Kröger, Managing Director of the German Shipowners' Association (© VDR)

The number of pirate attacks on merchant ships increased by around 20% in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the previous year. The German Shipowners’ Association (VDR) sees the security situation as an enormous challenge.

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) published new figures yesterday on cases of piracy and armed robbery at sea. In the first three months of this year, there were a total of 33 attacks and robberies worldwide, around 20% more pirate attacks on ships than in the same period last year, compared to 27. Ships with German participation were the second most frequently affected by attacks (4), after India (6). [ds_preview]

“We are observing this development with concern. The safety of our ships and seafarers on the sea routes must be guaranteed. This is the only way to ensure the smooth flow of international trade. The many critical security situations worldwide are currently posing an enormous challenge to shipping. In addition to piracy, this also includes the difficult geopolitical environment in the Red Sea, in large parts of the Black Sea and in the Indo-Pacific,” explains Martin Kröger, Managing Director of the German Shipowners’ Association (VDR).

Shipowners’ resources against pirates limited

IMB Q1 2024 Bericht zu Piraten Piraterie82% of the total of the 33 pirate attacks took place in the waters near Bangladesh (7), Indonesia (6), Somalia (5), the Singapore Strait (5) and Angola (4). 24 ships were boarded by pirates, six were attacked, two were hijacked and one was shot at. 35 crew members were taken hostage, nine were kidnapped and one crew member was threatened.

According to the VDR, the German Navy’s participation in international operations makes a significant contribution to curbing the threat of piracy and ensuring the safety of the world’s oceans. However, the protective measures that shipping companies can take for their merchant ships and their crews to protect themselves from pirate attacks are limited. “In particular, they can observe the current warning notices and danger levels and register with existing reporting systems when sailing in high-risk areas. In principle, defensive techniques on or near the ship, such as fencing devices or sound and radiation weapons, can also counter pirate attacks to a certain extent,” it says.

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