Securewest | News
27 Sep 2018

Maritime Security: Past, Present and Future

This year the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) celebrates 70 years since the Convention establishing the Organisation was adopted. The World Maritime Day theme for the year is "IMO 70: Our Heritage – Better Shipping for a Better Future".  This has provided us with the opportunity to take stock and reflect, but also to look forward, addressing current and future challenges for maritime security industry and Securewest International’s maritime operations.

Securewest International are a recognised market leader in the provision of maritime security solutions to the commercial, military, cruise and offshore sectors. With over 30 years of service to our maritime clients, and extensive experience in Gulf of Aden, Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean, South East Asia and Gulf of Guinea regions, we fully understand the risks to vessels, cargoes and crew in the marine environment. 

The shipping industry is one of the world’s oldest industries and still plays an important role in modern society. About 90% of all world trade is carried by the international shipping industry, with over 50,000 merchant ships and over a million seafarers worldwide. The industry is regulated globally by the IMO, who, within their mandate state to make trade and travel by sea as safe and secure as possible. According to the International Chamber of Shipping seaborne trade continues to expand, bringing benefits for consumers across the world through competitive freight costs. Thanks to the growing efficiency of shipping as a mode of transport and increased economic liberalisation, the prospects for the industry's further growth continue to be strong.

However, there are many threats to maritime security including terrorism, local conflict, illegal immigration and piracy. The threat posed by piracy and armed robbery against ships has been on the IMO's agenda since the early 1980s. In the late 1990s and the early 2000s the focus was on the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. More recently, since 2005, the IMO has focused on piracy off the coast of Somalia, in the Gulf of Aden and the wider Indian Ocean.

Maritime piracy reached its peak level in 2010, with around 445 reported incidents (Source: Statista). Pirates are attracted by the abundance of natural resources in the countries and the strategic passages for oil transport have become notorious targets for maritime crime.

Despite a general decline in overall number of pirate attacks, the number of ships hijacked by pirates almost doubled in 2014 from the previous year's level. Pirates took over 21 vessels in 2014, up from 12 the previous year, with 442 sailors taken hostage, according to data from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

On 8th October 2015 the size of the ‘High Risk Area’ for piracy in the Indian Ocean was reduced which came in response to the ongoing containment of pirate attacks in that region. We have seen a downward trend in hijackings since 2014.

In 2017 there was a slight reduction in incidents of piracy and robbery of vessels worldwide, which was reflected in most regions. The success rate of hijackings was low due a number of factors such a significant naval presence and armed security teams provided by Securewest or similar maritime security companies, who are increasingly seen to be of central importance to the protection of merchant ships.

The last piracy incident on one of Securewest’s protected vessels was 5 years ago. The vessel was successfully secured and none of the crew were injured during this occurrence. Since then there have been many suspicious approaches to the vessels we secure. In all instances our teams have effectively dealt with the threat. Risk is often mitigated by the presence of security teams. There is still a problem and teams have to remain vigilant. Only last weekend pirates kidnapped 12 people from a Swiss merchant vessel off the coast of Nigeria.

Clare Williamson-Cary, Chief Executive of Securewest International said:

“The maritime security industry remains challenging and recently we have seen a reduction of the number of companies operating in this sector.  At Securewest International we are focused on providing our clients with a quality service; which adhere to both industry and international standards as well as only recruiting highly trained and qualified personnel. In an industry with so much uncertainty and high risk involved we feel it is paramount to ensuring the protection of our client’s assets.

“At the moment it is about maintaining a security presence onboard. If ships don’t, they instantly make themselves a soft target. In the maritime sector there are spikes of illegal activity and although we have seen a decline in the number of attacks we must always be prepared for what the future might hold and potential confrontations.

Securewest International are proud to be supporting World Maritime Day and what it stands for.”

Securewest International offers an unrivalled choice of security services, tailored to the specific requirements of our clients, to mitigate the risks to people, property and reputation posed by piracy and maritime crime:

  • Highly experienced Maritime Security Officers for on board or in port security,
  • Maritime Security Escort Vessels
  • Vessel or Facility Security Advisors
  • Security Assessments
  • ISPS and related International Regulatory Compliance programs
  • Security Training for company staff and crew
  • SSAS Management and Monitoring
  • Vessel Tracking and 24/7 support through our Global Response Centre

If you would like to find out more about our maritime services and how we can help you please contact