Piracy at sea in the first half of 2022 is at its lowest level since 1994, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said, with 58 incidents, down from 68 for the same period last year. Nevertheless, the organization warns against complacency.
For the full year 2020, the IMB listed 195 actual and attempted attacks, up from 162 in 2019. The Covid-19 pandemic may have played a role in that increase in piracy activity – as it is tied to underlying social, political and economic problems – and in 2022 may represent the beginning of a reversal of a downtrend.
Many people outside the shipping and insurance industries do not realize that piracy remains a costly threat in the 21St century. Global insurer Zurich estimates the annual cost of piracy to the global economy at $12 billion a year. In its Security and Maritime Review 2022, global insurer Allianz reports that piracy comes behind machine damage or failure, collision and contact, in terms of the number of loss-causing incidents globally – and that total losses have fallen by 57 percent over the past decade.
However, the shipping industry is vulnerable to disruption and, as Allianz points out, has been affected on multiple fronts by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: from loss of life and ships in the Black Sea and disrupted trade to challenges to day-to-day operations affecting crews, costs and fuel availability , and the growing cyber risk.
“So far, the biggest impact has been on vessels operating in the Black Sea and/or trading with Russia,” Allianz said. “At the start of the conflict, around 2,000 seafarers were stranded on ships in Ukrainian ports. Trapped crews faced the constant threat of attack, with little access to food or medical supplies, and a number have been killed.”
According to a recent industry survey, Allianz says, 44 percent of shipping personnel reported that their organization has been subject to a cyber attack in the past three years. Accumulations of cargo exposures in megaports have increased – and with ports increasingly dependent on technology, an outage or cyber attack can effectively shut down a port.
In February 2022, India’s busiest container port was hit by a ransomware attack, following incidents in US and South African ports in recent years.
A third of organizations surveyed by Allianz said they do not conduct regular cyber security training or have a cyber response plan.