Over the last year we have seen an evolution / adaptation of the piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the east coast of Africa. Most of this was predictable if you know a bit about the criminal mentality. I say this because the typical pirates in the region are acting more like criminals than terrorists. I guess if you want to be technical about it, piracy is a form of terrorism, but I am speaking of the context of crime for profit rather than crime for political influence or gain. the pirates have evolved in their methodology as well as having adapted to the presence of naval forces in the region. They have moved farther off shore, they have moved attacks into the Red Sea and even as far East as Sur, Oman.
Now that the monsoon season has slowed piracy for a while, it is almost finished and the "experts" are predicting a severe rise in attacks. This would be normal as they have been hampered by weather and big waves and are in need of new financial replenishment. There have been many stories and articles about the various groups of pirates working maybe in up to five separate clans or groups. However, I believe that this can actually be looked at in a different way. If we look at it as seasoned pirate vs new pirate, we can concentrate on two groups rather than five.
My observation takes credence with two attacks. First, the attack on the Maersk Alabama. The pirates in this case were mere teenagers and obviously not the seasoned or experienced pirate. the other is the attack recently off of the coast of Oman, Where the attack took place in Beaufort 7 conditions on July 4th on a bulk carrier. The point being, to operate a small skiff in Beaufort 7 conditions and conduct an attack, you have to be a pretty seasoned operator.
So the two groups would be the seasoned pirate / fisherman and the young new pirates that are just now jumping in on the piracy opportunity. Therefore, when the monsoon season ends, we should not only see an increase in piracy, but we should also see a distinct set of separate methods emerge. The pirates have had plenty of time to sit around the table and plan how they may be able to better their chances of success with piracy attacks. Even recently, the Yemen Navy reported thwarting an attack involving 14 skiffs. this may be an indication of the evolutionary mode of the new pirate season.
The pirate attacks have more than doubled this year in the region, however the success rate per attack has gone down. This may be in part to the naval patrols, but more importantly, the preparation of the vessels and their crews in response to the piracy issue. If the evolution and adaptation continues, the pirates will use many more 'attack' skiffs on each individual target in an attempt to produce better results in their efforts. This will make each vessel more difficult to defend and each shipping company should be preparing for this now.