On the issue of complacency, Hansen admitted to being puzzled. Perhaps it is Company Security Officers’ failure to distribute timely intelligence; or maybe it is a lack of decision-making. There are definitely some operators, he said, who simply decide to take a chance, sometimes even sailing the most vulnerable tonnage – slow vessels with a low freeboard – through the most dangerous waters. At least four vessels hijacked during 2009 were sailing directly into areas where warnings had been issued, according to Hansen.
Now the main concern is the move further off the coast and the use of mother ships to launch skiffs. Hansen said that if the pirates start operations in earnest east of 60° longitude, then what has become a serious regional problem becomes a critical strategic global issue. To police the west Indian Ocean in the same way as naval forces protect key transit zones in the Gulf of Aden would require “all the navies of the world”, he said.
The company offers a web-based assessment service, tracking maritime incidents around the world and offering additional analysis. So far, it has 3,000 users ranging from the large to small shipping companies, classification societies, underwriters, government agencies and offshore seismic operators. Charges vary but, for ship operators, are based on the number of vessels in operation.