By Forbes Staff
April 13, 2009
The perilous rescue of captain Richard Phillips is just one episode in a worldwide renaissance of sea piracy that began a decade ago
When most Americans thought of sea piracy before last week, Johnny Depp came to mind, not Somalia. But the hostage taking and perilous rescue of captain Richard Phillips is only the most high-profile episode in a worldwide renaissance of sea piracy that began a decade ago.
At its heart: the growth of global commerce in the past two decades that has crowded the oceans with cargo vessels, dry-bulk carriers and supertankers loaded with every good imaginable. The world currently transports 80% of all international freight by sea. More than 10 million cargo containers are moving across the world’s oceans at any one time.
In Pictures: The World’s Most Dangerous Waters
The heavy ocean traffic (and its cargo) spawned a surge in sea piracy and a new breed of pirates, the bloodiest the world has seen. More than 2,400 acts of piracy were reported around the world between 2000 and 2006, roughly twice the number reported for the preceding six-year period. Although pirate attacks have at least tripled during that time period, the actual number of attacks remains unclear. Shipping companies frequently do not report attacks out of concern that it could increase insurance premiums…
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