Is increasing the speed of a vessel at risk of piracy the best use of your resources? It is common practice for vessels transiting past the East and West Coasts of Africa to increase speed, all in an attempt to outrun pirates.
The thinking behind this is typically “the less time I spend in the danger zone, the less risk I am at.” However, take a moment and apply this mentality to other dangerous tasks; does it mean that the quicker you do it, the safer you are? Probably not.
Pirate skiffs are known to routinely reach speeds of 25kn in favourable sea conditions. Now, compare that to the speed of a Suez Max which averages at 10kn and we can see that there is no chance of simply outrunning the threat – at best it is a delay tactic and a costly one at that.
Now, we could argue that the majority of tactics adopted, such as the use of razor wire, are all delay tactics. So, if we’re only delaying risk, why not try and challenge that ethos with a mindset of ‘prevent’ instead?
The average cost of a Suez Max increasing its speed by a mere 2kn costs on average around $3,500 a day, while at the same time pumping an extra 39% of Co2 into the atmosphere (source: eu.oceana.org).
Now let’s say that a pirate skiff approaches from 1 nm and is cruising at 18kn; if we were to increase our speed up to 12kn, it will simply take the pirates 2.5 minutes longer to reach their closest point of approach (COP) to us….