COVID-19 has affected the world in many ways. Health and wealth have been at the forefront of the news and have been the subject of politics internationally. As the global economy works its way through the mutating of SARS-CoV-2, (now the most infectious variant in the form of Delta) we will look at how it has affected piracy and the shipping industry. Although film and TV piracy is at an all-time high (likely from people who are bored at home and want to watch some premium entertainment), piracy on the sea is the lowest it has been since 1994. So far this year, according to the International Maritime Bureau, there has been a total of 68 reported incidents. “The 2021 figures are broken down as 61 vessels boarded, four attempted attacks, two vessels fired upon, and one vessel hijacked. The Gulf of Guinea accounted for 32% of all reported incidents, including both vessels fired upon and the vessel hijacking. The region also accounted for all 50 kidnapped crew as well as the crew fatality.”
Kidnappings are down from the Quarter 2 report of 2020 in the Gulf of Guinea. This is likely a result of concerted efforts of the different coastal response teams. A quick glance at the tables of the IMB piracy report indicates that the use of guns in piracy attacks is down by 50%. The use of knives, however, doubled in 2020 from 2019 and has remained the weapon of choice in this year’s pirate attacks. Could this be due to the shortage and increased cost of ammunition? Yes, even criminals must buy bullets. Piracy tactics have had to change. As supply of goods are backlogged, increased security and harsher punishments for pirates have increased.
The global pandemic has created shortage of raw materials and has caused a backlog of overstocked vessels in every port. Steel has gone up 219% since Jan. 1, 2020. Many suppliers all over the world agree that we are all in the same predicament.
Manufacturers are waiting on raw materials so that they can take care of the distributors and in turn service the end-users. The savvy businesses stocked up early and are continuing to stock up their supplies to last them through the remainder of the year. The best price for goods was yesterday’s price and tomorrow it’s only going up. Volatility still plagues the market even though we have seen it settle down since this whole thing started. The market has seen lumber prices increase significantly, then drop suddenly.
Karl St. John from Pacific Commercial Diving Supply, an ADCI associate member company in Caringbah, Australia, has reported that not only is it taking two to three times longer for him to get his equipment, but that the country has also returned to lockdown (at presstime). PCDS, however, has been deemed essential so is still operating to support the surrounding marine industry.
In Europe, Olivier Ramos from De Zeeman Pro, has stated that he is waiting on several goods from all over the world and much of his cargo is going to pass through the pirateinfested Gulf of Guinea. Delays coupled with high-risk areas are causing insurance prices to increase and consumer prices to follow suit. As I am writing this, Brent Crude is at $67.27 and WTI Crude is at $64.09. Oil demand is high, and there aren’t enough trucks to move the oil out of the ports. It would really be nice to have a pipeline we could move mass amounts of oil through.
In Singapore, Bill Jordan from Advanced Marine reports that although the vaccine rate is high the country is still on lockdown. Vaccinated people are allowed more liberties; however, most restaurants and bars remain closed. The raw materials shortage is also in full effect, and they have had long lead times with ocean shipped goods from the US. The outlook is the same when I checked in with associate members in Dubai and the UK as well.
As we try to find our way out of these difficult times, we must not forget that no matter what the world will keep turning. If you are on the shipping side, diving side (or even pirate side), we all rely on the water to make a living. Theses shortages are affecting us all. Finding new creative ways to outsell and out-service your competition is key and is also the reason many of us are still here and still working. Keep afloat my friends; this too shall pass. Until next time, fair winds.
(2017, July 7). International Maritime Bureau. International Maritime Bureau. https://www.icc-ccs.org/icc/imb
Do you earn more money than a Somali pirate? (2013, November 6). The World from PRX. https://www.pri.org/stories/2013-11-06/do-you-earn-more-money-somali-pirate
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). (2020, February 11). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/variants/variant-info.html
Live Piracy Map. (n.d.). Live Piracy Map. Retrieved August 23, 2021, from https://www.icc-ccs.org/piracy-reporting-centre/live-piracy-map
Ammo Prices Now. (2021, April 3). Price History Comparison Tool Result. https://ammopricesnow.com/chart-generatorresult/?ammo=45acp%2C+762by39&eid=We6PDwdkB4uer38SDvjvMMWDec3X9oSZHdcPRE8zg67Ty6lOTQHZAB1gjGfEuGOEjZ5FKTMlKQxu374SvqsGDryxK8gH4K%2BpWf2mgvqtYpD7u%2BtJ