The impact of thieves on cargo shipments has come to the forefront of global news as thieve based in Somalia have seized ships in recent months. The problem has grown into huge proportions that are affecting the bottom line of logistics companies and manufacturers around the glove.
Somalia has been without a functional government for several years. A civil war ripped the nation apart and the government that is officially in control of the nation is powerless to stop the criminal along the coastline waters. The economy is in a wreck and those who served in the militias and poor fishermen have learned to put together their skills and engage in money-making tactics that have produced what may total between 150 and 200 million dollars in ransoms.
Armed thieves approach a ship that is sailing around the Horn of Africa, capture the sailors, ship and cargo for ransom, and then demand several million dollars in ransom be paid for the freedom of the sailors and ship. The thieves are interested only in the ransom and have been willing to let go the sailors and merchandise unharmed when their demands are met. For a while, shipping companies and national governments were eager to pay the ransoms to gain the freedom of the crews and cargo. The thieves have been brave, even taking control of Russian tanks for a brief period of time.
The impact of thieves on cargo transportation companies has been destructive, not only millions of dollars in ransoms but costly delays. Disrupted shipments have created a new problem in delivery dates as most sailors and merchandise have stayed under Somali control for a few weeks or two at a time before being released. The logistics business has the responsibility of organizing the moving of cargo and is forced to appease shipment buyers as the merchandise stays in Somali ports undelivered.
International incidents have become more common as governments have chosen to respond with an dangerous military presence. The military ships began patrolling international waters but have now moved into Somali national waters with the governmentï¿½s permission. The military presence has slowed the thieves but the problem remains.
Where ransoms are being made, sophisticated weaponry is available. thieves are armed with weapons, typically a recognizable threat to unarmed or lightly dangerous crews on the attacked ships. Speedboats are the watercraft of choice and ships stand little chance of getting away from them.
Countries as different as South Korea, Japan, India, Russia and the America have sent their militaries to escort their ships through the area. As firepower has arrived, inevitable altercations between attacking thieves and the defending navies have led to the deaths of thieves and innocent civilians. An Indian vessel even fired on another vessel that was erroneously thought to be carrying thieves, but wasn`t.
The psychological affect on civilian crews has led to near panic when suspected thieves have approached. Captured crews have been treated well so far but thereï¿½s no assurance that this will continue. 3pl logistics