The report by Dryad Maritime said the next 18 months could see a rise in the level of piracy East of Suez and the Indian Ocean.
Dryad Maritime commercial director David Hunkin said it was only a matter of time before Western navies began withdrawing warships that have warned off piracy off the Somali coast.
“With the US strategic focus now firmly fixed on the Asia Pacific region and Iran ‘coming in from the cold’, it is only a matter of time before western navies begin withdrawing the warships that have been so successful in suppressing piracy off the Somali coast,” he said.
Hunkin said the withdrawal of warships could leave vessels and crews more vulnerable to a hijack situation.
“Not only could a reduction in naval forces herald a return of piracy, it would also most certainly result in a reduction of rescue forces.
“At present, should a ship’s crew retreat to a citadel as pirates take control of their vessel, rescue forces are only hours or days away.
Hunkin said with the withdrawal of maritime forces, rescue could take a lot longer.
The white paper gave governments, international organisations, the shipping industry and the private maritime security industry about 18 months to create a solution.
It said that discussions had to start now to agree on how to deal with the “vaccum” that is going to be left once the security measures leave.
“The clock is ticking but for once there is time to establish an effective a solution provided the reality and enormity of this situation is acknowledged and measures put in place to ensure the safety of those plying their lawful trade upon the Indian Ocean.”
Hunkin said it the solution could either be a commercial solution of a mix of commercial and defence capabilities to make sure shipping is protected in the future.
The latest incident in a long string of piracy incidents, occured early last month when two Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) vessels were kidnapped.
Gunmen attacked two tugs operated by NAOC on inland waterways 30 kilometres north-east of Brass, according to a report from Norwegian security analyst Bergen Risk Solutions (BRS).
*Bianca Bartucciotto – Upstreamonline