There’s a fascinating website covering the various aspects of piracy?but it has nothing to do with software or copyright infringement. This site helps international shippers stay aware of and away from modern-day pirates. Cast aside any notions of swashbuckling derring-do, though. These 21st century buccaneers are often equipped with speedboats, machetes, automatic weapons and the seafaring knowledge needed to make off with oceangoing freighters.
The “Weekly Piracy Report,” posted on the ICC Commercial Crime Services site (www.icc-ccs.org), provides accounts of attempted and successful pirate attacks. It also includes maps of hot spots where pirating and robberies frequently occur (for example, there was a warning to avoid the “pirate-infested Somalia coast” this past summer), as well as links to helpful international agencies.
Logs from ICC, which is based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, provide brief and disturbing reports of the most recent pirate escapades. One of the many posted accounts reads in part: “28.09.2002 at 0300 LT at Pulau Ayu Keciil off Karimun Islands, Malacca Straits, Malaysia. Pirates armed with guns and knives boarded a tanker. They tied the hands of 14 crew members and locked them in a cabin. Pirates transferred her cargo of 3,000 metric tons of diesel to another tanker. All communication equipment was damaged. After pirates left, crew freed themselves and reported to owners by hand phone. The tanker arrived at Pasir Gudang port on the 29.09.2002.”
Piracy is a growing threat to shipping. There were 469 incidents in 2000, which was an exceptionally bad year for pirate attacks, says Capt. Pottengal Mukundan, director of ICC’s Commercial Crimes Unit. Recent figures show 87 attacks were reported in the first quarter of 2002, up from 68 for the same period in 2001. So far this year, there have been 33 piracy incidents off the African coast, and 32 in Southeast Asia.