In the latter part of the last century, governments, shipping companies, and marine insurers witnessed a steep rise in the number of pirate attacks on merchant vessels.
There is a clear connection between mounting prosperity and increasing international trade in one part of the world and political instability, wars, and growing poverty in others. The main hot spots are the coastal waters off Southeast Asia, West Africa, Somalia, South America, the Caribbean islands, and some countries in the eastern Mediterranean.
Since the hijacking of the passenger ship Achille Lauro in 1985, a further danger that is related to piracy, terrorism at sea, has moved into the focus of international attention. As a rule, this has less to do with committing robbery and murder for pecuniary gain than with causing harm to the economic and other interests of certain states.
Every year, hundreds of ships are attacked and hostages taken, hundreds of sailors are injured, traumatised, or killed, and there are losses totalling billions of dollars and the danger of environmental disasters when oil tankers, for example, are captured – reason enough for marine insurers and reinsurers to be very concerned and to think about control and prevention measures.
This latest work in Munich Re’s knowledge series has been written as a contribution towards the international debate on this topical issue. Piracy – Threat at sea provides a risk analysis of the danger emanating from piracy and marine terrorism and explains the legal position at national and international levels. It highlights underwriting aspects and describes ways of minimising the risk.
Global commitment in the fight against piracy is growing. The intention of this brochure is to give it vigorous support.
Member of the Munich Re Board of Management
22 September 2006