News / Africa

    Pirate Attacks Expected to Pick Up in Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean

    Piracy is a booming and increasingly lucrative business, with ransoms of millions of dollars being paid.  Private yachts are using the latest technologies to protect themselves from the threat. 

    As the monsoon season ends in Asia, the Indian Ocean calms and incidences of piracy usually surge. Navy ships are preparing for that increase.

    Karen Jacques is commercial director at Dryad Maritime Intelligence. "At the moment, all the patterns seem to be suggesting that it's going to end about mid-September, at that point, the seas lower, the rains go away and the pirates come out to play," she said.

    Ben Young knows what happens when they do. He was piloting a private yacht through the Gulf of Aden when pirates attacked. "One evening a small vessel crossed across our bow to try and slow us down and at that point another two vessels came from behind to try and board," said Young.

    Targets

    These privately owned, luxury vessels, called super yachts, are worth millions of dollars and are attractive targets. Young says in his case, the crew was lucky. "In the instance of this piracy attack, we simply fired warning shots above the pirates' heads and they turned round and retreated," he said.

    Private vessels increasingly are resorting to equipment once reserved for the military - infrared cameras, high-end motion sensors and sonic lasers to detect and deter pirates.

    Bruce MacPhearson of Automatic Sea Vision, which makes surveillance gear, says the threat has escalated. "The intensity has increased not only in the number of attacks occurring, but in the willingness of the pirates to use lethal force," said MacPhearson.

    Hot spots

    The Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean have been hot spots for pirates mainly operating out of Somalia. But as the pirates capture larger ships they can venture further afield says Jacques.

    "Their reach now actually extends right the way across the Indian Ocean as far as India and we've seen them active around the Seychelles, so with the larger vessels their reach is much more extended," said the commercial director at Dryad Maritime Intelligence.

    Captains of smaller yachts that can not afford expensive technology are particularly wary of pirates. Alexander Whicher is in charge of a 67-foot sailboat. "Everybody knows you don't go near Somalia and a lot of cruising boats now have a tendency to drop out of the Indian Ocean and head to South Africa and either go across to Brazil and then on up to the Caribbean. They tend not to go up through the Suez Canal," he said.

    An international Naval task force has cut down on the number of pirate attacks. But Horn of Africa Analyst Roger Middleton,  with the London-based think tank Chatham House, says the pirates have an advantage.

    "We're looking at an area of one and a half million square miles of ocean. This is a massive area and even on the best days there's only about 35 maybe 40 naval ships patrolling that area," he said.

    Middleton says piracy is a growing business. This year the average ransom is expected to be more than $1 million.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora