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Thu 11 Mar 2010 05:15 PM

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Gulf of Aden pirates see drop in success rate

Pirates operating off Yemen coast had a success rate of 22% in '09 vs 34% in '08.

Despite the increase in attacks, the rate of success for Somali pirates off the Gulf of Aden decreased last year, according to a report in a US newspaper.

An article in the Los Angeles Times, written by one of its Gulf correspondents, found that pirates operating off the coast of Yemen had a success rate of 22 percent last year, compared to 34 percent in 2008 and 63 percent in 2007.

Figures show that despite there being 198 attacks by pirates in the Gulf of Aden last year, which is a year-on-year increase of 62 percent, only 44 were successful. This compares to 122 attacks and 42 successful attempts made in 2008.

The falling success rate is due to new "defensive driving" tactics adopted by many commercial shipping companies who operate in the area, naval officials told the newspaper. Tactics used include the removal of overboard ladders, the use of fire hoses and a planned zigzag method of navigation when pirates approach. However, the report also added that last year shipping companies were forced to pay $48.4m in ransom to pirates, as a result of successful attacks.

Last month, a new report from research firm Frost and Sullivan said that in 2009 the Middle East spent $7.9m on seaport security. The report forecast that the figure is expected to rise to $11.6m by 2016. However, the report said more needed to be spent in order to combat the ongoing threat of piracy.

“The percentage of spending on security by port authorities continues to be minimal… With public funding at a minimum, port authorities and ship owners are reluctant to spend more on security. The cost of security-related investments is not passed onto the customer, instead owners bear the whole cost,” YS Shahisdhar, country director for South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, said.

“Rising terrorism and upcoming new ports are stimulating seaport authorities to spend more on security. Efficient security systems will need to be procured to protect seaports in the region… Security outlays will continue to rise in the wake of proliferating terrorism and piracy,” Shahisdhar said.

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