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Largely as a consequence of failed states, piracy has re-emerged as a global security threat, most recently in the waters off the Horn of Africa, but also in West Africa, the waters off India, the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca, and the Caribbean. Pirates tend to operate in regions with large coastal areas, high levels of commercial activity, small national naval forces, and weak regional security co-operation mechanisms1. According to International Maritime Bureau statistics worldwide rates of piracy began to increase in the early 1990s, peaking at roughly 350 to 450 reported attacks per year during the period 2000-2004, then declining by almost half by 2005. In 2007, almost half of the world’s reported pirate attacks took place in African waters, mainly near Nigeria and Somalia. There have been 70 attacks in Somali waters reported to the International Maritime Bureau in the first 9 months of 2012 representing over one third of attacks worldwide.

The long term solution to piracy requires building stable states and tackling poverty. This has been recognised by the international community being active in the support and development of these countries and regions. This is a complex process with many political issues and implications that will take many years.In the short term, adequate, cost effective solutions are needed to protect seafarers and merchant shipping and to secure Europe’s maritime supply lines.



PROMERC will provide a layered approach to planning, routeing & threat reduction. The concept is to provide interlocking tools which will enable informed decisions and an improved choice of counter measures in order to avoid, deter and defeat piracy. The tools will support a mix of active and passive measures whichare appropriate to the situation and the threat.

The details of the concept are as follow:

  1. Help shipping companies and seafarers make informed decisions. Provide an exhaustive catalogue of counter-measure with measures of constraints on use, costbenefit and operational effectiveness so that end-users can select the most appropriate mix to mitigate the risk to their vessel, crew and cargo. One of many benefits of the approach is to extend the boarding avoidance to the maximum amount possible at an acceptable cost. Not only by increasing the number of measures, but also by using them to the maximum level permitted. Situation specific guidance will be provided in the form of a Knowledge Base and a Best Management Practice manual. This document will help decision makers at an early stage in the process, such as ship equipment, voyage planning, etc. but also in the course of action when faced with pirate attacks.
  2. Provide seafarers and shipping headquarters with up-to-date information. Predictive intelligence, based on selected sources of information and advanced algorithms, will provide Multiple day forecast of pirate activity with real skill. Advanced algorithms include ship specific vulnerability assessment and mitigation, near real time sea state, wind conditions and updated information as events occur. This capability will be provided to partner end-users, as part of the project, in the form of a user-friendly tactical decision aid installed on a laptop.
  3. Provide risk based Route Planning. A route planning capability will enable decision makers to minimise the cost of re-routing (in time & fuel) while minimising risk level. This will be done based on improved Situational Awareness: the more accurate and recent the information is, the better the routes that can be predicted to give maximum protection at only marginal deviation of the route. This capability will be provided to partner end-users, as part of the project, in the form of a user-friendly voyage planning tool installed on a laptop.
  4. Holistic approach. Balance risk over boarding avoidance and re-routing, thereby minimising overall cost of counter piracy actions. The holistic approach also supports maximum independency of external intervention, by decreasing the number of boardings
  5. Change the role of military support.
    Emphasis will shift from intervention power to information power. Accurate and timely information on piracy behavior and piracy intent will have to be provided either by already available military systems or by dedicated civil agencies. The shift from intervention to information allows ship security to be maintained at lower cost for military involvement. This will allow counter-piracy activities to cope with ever shrinking budgets.

Key features of the concept include the fact that the aforementioned tools are Web based or semi autonomous,a risk based approach is taken applying rigorous analysis, customer centric tailored data services will be made available and a highly automated expert system is at the core of the tools.

Benefits of the concept are multiple: risk of piracy is reduced, cost of re-routeing is minimised, satellite vessel tracking and continuous updates are provided to the Company Security Officer (CSO) and Master en route, piracy risk is quantified to aid decision making, planning and routeing interlock with hardware options to provide layered defence and risk mitigation.