Piracy is at its lowest level in decades, but the risk for seafarers and ships is far from zero.
One recent incident in June 2023 involved boarding of a ship underway in the Singapore Straits, with perpetrators armed with knives. In another, criminals armed with shovels stormed the steering gear room. Luckily no crew members were injured in either incident.
Most voyages go smoothly. No captain ever expects to be a statistic (or turned into a Hollywood blockbuster, for that matter.) Part of that comes from preparation and vigilance on behalf of fleet managers and owners. Here’s what to know about the risk of piracy to fleets—and how technology like ShipIn’s FleetVision can help strengthen defenses by giving your crew early warning of any risks.
The Risk of Piracy Around the World
As most seafarers know, piracy is more likely to take place in specific areas of the world. A quick look at the ICC’s live piracy map shows several hotspots in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Of these, 90% of piracy incidents occur in the Gulf of Guinea, a major shipping corridor that stretches 5,700 kilometers from Senegal to Angola. According to marine insurance company Allianz, 115 incidents of piracy or robbery occurred in 2022. In comparison, in 2012, 138 incidents took place in just the first six months. This reduction over the last decade speaks more to the changing socioeconomic circumstances of West Africa, though it remains a hotspot for kidnapping and robbery.
Piracy has in fact become more active in the troubled area of the Singapore Straits. Out of 84 incidents of piracy in Asia in 2022, 65% took place there. Now an “area of concern,” piracy rates have increased to a seven-year high.
“The incidents in the Singapore Strait mostly occur in the hours of darkness and have become opportunistic in nature. Their main objective is to steal items from the ships and escape without being noticed by the crew. These are often petty theft incidents of low severity, with the criminals mostly aiming for unsecured items such as ship stores, scrap metal or machinery spares.” – Krishnaswamy Natarajan, executive director of the Singapore-based ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ISC)
As the situation in the Singapore Straits continues to develop, it’s more important than ever to invest in preventative measures that can alert your crew to these covert attempts to board ships.
How to Defend Your Fleet Against Pirate Attacks
Your crew isn’t an elite armed force ready to defend the ship against any risk. They’re hard working seafarers trying to make a decent living. While many ships employ armed guards and anti-boarding equipment like water cannons or vessel lights while passing through certain areas, it’s not always a sustainable solution. The expenses for insurance, staffing logistics, and security services add up—sometimes to more than $50,000 per day of travel.
That’s where maritime AI-powered CCTV technology like ShipIn comes in.
Intalling a network of cameras across critical areas of the ship, the system monitors the perimeter of the vessel. But instead of hiring someone to watch footage—and potentially miss an armed pirate sneaking onboard in the night—ShipIn’s powerful AI can detect external threats and potential hazards in real-time. The system actively alerts the ship’s command to previously unseen events, such as:
- Suspicious craft, even a small vessel, approaching alongside
- People / activity on deck when this is not expected, i.e. at night
- Monitoring of the ships citadel (e.g. steering gear room) to ensure crew is safe
The interactive dashboard changes from green to yellow or red depending on the level of risk, alerting crew members on the bridge and managers on shore to any potential threats. There are also higher alert status in specific high-risk geographies using geofencing technology.
In the event of an emergency, when time is of the essence, you can respond quickly and efficiently. Ship owners, captains, and crew can all see the same information in real-time, working shoulder to shoulder to take appropriate steps to prevent further damage, initiate safety protocols, or receive updates as needed with nearly continuous communication and visibility into shipboard activities, behavior, and status.
Protect Your Fleet Against Piracy with ShipIn
Today’s shipping companies require a much higher level of vigilance, which is almost impossible to achieve with existing resources and a limited number of crew on board. With the right technology in place, however, you can detect security risks early and often and keep your onboard crew, cargo, and your vessels safe.
With the ShipIn FleetVision™ Platform, you can proactively address piracy concerns for your fleet. With ShipIn, you have 24/7 surveillance of mission-critical areas of the ship, plus AI-powered insights that can alert crew when detecting small craft nearby or non-crew members on board.
See how ShipIn can help protect your fleet against piracy >