Recent attacks have shown pirate gangs to be wholly opportunistic, says International Maritime Bureau

The shipping industry has dismissed a number of recent press reports claiming that pirates off the Somali coast target vessels in advance, allegedly making use of a network of international contacts.

Vessels attacked so far have included a range of vessel types from fishing boats to bulk carriers and a supertanker. The vessels have been of many diverse flags, crewed by different nationalities, with various cargoes on board destined for a wide range of ports, reported the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

Pirates have even attempted to attack naval units mistakenly believing them to be merchant vessels. Pirates target vessels that are easy to board and in their vicinity. If an attack is successfully repelled they move on to another vessel.

‘All the evidence indicates that these are primarily opportunistic crimes. The suggestion that vessels are targeted in advance using shore based intelligence is spurious,’ claimed the IMB.

“All the evidence indicates that these are primarily opportunistic crimes.

IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan commented: ‘Such unfounded speculation is mischievous and unhelpful. It unjustly detracts from the good work done so far by the international naval forces and other agencies and diverts attention from the important task of providing a practical response to the difficult challenges in the region.’

Further allegations have been made in the press that London-based information channels have been utilised to provide intelligence to the pirate gangs.

There is no evidence to support these allegations, said the IMB. ‘Further, there is no information in the public domain that would enable pirates to precisely locate a targeted vessel at sea and then to mount a successful attack off the Horn of Africa.’