Hijackings and attacks are any shipowner’s worst nightmare, given the threat to crew safety. Seafarers may be killed or held hostage for months in miserable conditions. The shipping industry goes to great lengths in its endeavours to prevent hijackings, by means of protective measures on vessels (alarm systems, cameras, barbed wire and private security guards), and through crew training.
However, beyond shipping, piracy also affects international trade as a whole. Major sea lanes are under threat at a cost of billions of euros to the world economy. Piracy is an age-old phenomenon, rearing its ugly head in areas, like parts of Africa’s western and eastern shores, suffering from weak governance and high economic and political instability. Local coast guards – if they exist at all – are poorly equipped and trained and they are consequently in no shape to adequately patrol their area of responsibility. This explains the need for private security guards on Belgian-flagged vessels to ensure crew safety.