New IMB service helps seafarers pinpoint piracy attacks

  • 29 August 2006

Sea captains and ship owners whose vessels must travel through piracy hotspots have a new tool to help them prepare their voyage. The International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has launched an online piracy map which gives users a visual on the nature and location of attacks to help them better understand and track incidents.

The map is available as either a satellite view, provided by Google, a plain view (indicating countries and borders), or a combination of both. Viewers see not only the relief of the coastline but also the bays and coves from which pirates may initiate their attack.

“It is not easy to get an immediate picture of the piracy risk of an area by reading lengthy reports full of data and numbers,” said IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan. “We hope the map, coupled with the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) alerts, will help seafarers spot the warning signs and better prepare for possible attacks.”

While the map is primarily aimed at helping ship owners, managers and their crews, Captain Mukundan noted that law enforcement officials will find it useful in deciding where best to concentrate their searches for pirates, and researchers will benefit from actually seeing the geographical circumstances of piracy attacks to predict trends.

Red balloons mark actual attacks while yellow balloons show attempted attacks. Clicking on these initiates a pop-up with a summary of the attack including the date and time, the type of vessel attacked, the type of attack and the number of crew affected. As with IMB’s quarterly and annual piracy reports, the information comes directly from ship masters and ship owners. Once verified by IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre new attacks or attempts will be added to the map within 24 hours.

Users can click on the year of their choice to bring up the corresponding map of attacks and their details for previous years, making visual comparisons of hot-spot activity much easier to understand. Feedback on the map and suggestions for future development are welcome and should be directed to the IMB directorate.