Shipping is becoming safer in general, but pirates are threatening peace on the high seas. The alliance warns of an increasing number of attacks. 

According to Allianz figures, the number of ships sinking worldwide has fallen to a record low. Last year only 26 larger ships sank worldwide. That was a good third less than in the previous year, and a decline of over 70 percent in a ten-year comparison, as the industrial insurer Allianz Commercial writes in the new edition of its annual report on shipping risks published on Wednesday (May 22nd). 

According to Allianz, traffic on the world’s oceans has become much safer within just a few decades: in the 1990s, an average of more than 200 ships sank every year. But in addition to the current wars and conflicts, another old danger threatens ships and their crews: pirates.

In addition to storms and strandings on the coast, pirates are also one of the oldest risks in shipping, and according to Allianz, piracy is experiencing something of a comeback: Last year there were 120 known pirate attacks worldwide, five more than in 2022. Most dangerous region in this According to Allianz Commercial, the Gulf of Guinea is on the coast of West Africa, followed by the Singapore Strait in Southeast Asia.

The big concern, however, is a resurgence of piracy in the Horn of Africa, the report says. Somali pirates hijacked a ship there for the first time since 2017 in December 2023, and there have been several more attacks since then.

According to the company’s shipping experts, the inspiration for Somali pirates probably comes from the many attacks by Islamist Houthi militias on merchant ships in the Red Sea in the wake of the Gaza war. Wars like those in Gaza and Ukraine also have an indirect impact on shipping safety by creating or promoting subsequent risks. 

As an example, the German Press Agency cites an international “shadow fleet” of an estimated 600 to 1,400 oil tankers that export Russian oil and have been involved in at least 50 incidents to date, including fires, collisions and oil pollution. “These are mostly older, poorly maintained ships that are operated outside international regulations and often without adequate insurance,” said Justus Heinrich, head of shipping insurance in Germany and Switzerland at Allianz Commercial. “This poses serious environmental and safety risks.”

The company is the subsidiary of the Munich DAX group responsible for industry and corporate customers.

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