Somali pirates- back for good?

Date: 28/07/2017
Author: Amanda Hastings

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the original author or contributor. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the UK P&I Club.

Apparently Somali pirates are back, or so some news headlines have recently read – but in reality piracy never left Somalia, incidents just dramatically decreased as a result of protection measures and pirates in other parts of the world drew more attention.

It’s probably fair to say that for as long as there have been ships, there have been pirates and this is unlikely to ever change. There is a fear that Somali piracy may be back as a result in the scaling down of the protections measures in the area. That is the subject of this week’s blog: 

  • Piracy was already prevalent in the ancient world – Homer makes reference to it in both the Iliad and the Odyssey, but even before late antiquity there was evidence of ancient pirates such as the Illyrians and the Tyrrhenians. A particularly famous female pirate of this time was Queen Teuta of Illyria who reigned from approximately 231 BC to 227 BC.
  • During the Elizabethan era, the government issued ‘letters of marque’ to certain pirates, this licensed them to legally plunder enemy ships – Sir Francis Drake was one of these privateers.
  • Modern piracy is not confined to a single geographic region, incidents occur worldwide. MO tends to change regionally e.g. Somalian piracy traditionally focused on holding the vessel ransom, whilst West African piracy appears to have mainly focused on cargo theft and crew kidnappings and ransom demands.
  • The ICC maintains a map of live piracy incidents worldwide. It can be accessed here. There were 191 piracy incidents reported in 2016.
  • The Aris 13 (March 2017) was the first successful hijacking by Somali pirates since 2012.
  • If a ship moves through a high-risk area (HRA), as identified by the Joint War Risks Committee or a relevant mutual insurer, additional cover in the form of War Risks is needed. 

Further information on piracy please see:

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