Modern maritime piracy is a very real threat. The International Maritime Bureau, a division of the ICC Commercial Crime Services, reports an upsurge of pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia and in Brazilian ports.
At the same, the IMB is concerned about the constant nature of piracy in Southeast Asian waters. Ships travelling to the affected region are being advised to be particularly cautious when transiting the waters between the South China Sea and the Java Sea. These pirates are using relatively heavy weaponry (mortars and rocket-propelled grenades) against vessels sailing in East African waters. The IMB advises vessels to remain at least 50 nautical miles offshore when transiting the coastal regions of Somalia. In recent incidents, the pirates off Somalia pretend to be coast guards, there have even been such instances with corrupt law enforcement officials. Their deception often begins with vocal warnings through loudspeaker or radio, followed by attack with automatic weaponry. It’s believed that some attacks are aimed at gaining control of a ship in order to seize others, as the pirates' own craft is usually too small and too slow to really be effective. Recently, the pirates attacked a British registered racing yacht off the coast of Somalia. The small pirate craft fired a mortar at the yacht in the Gulf of Aden, and some of the pirates attempted to board the vessel. Fortunately, the pirates quickly fled when a container ship and a Canadian Navy vessel came to the yacht's rescue.
These recent piracy problems have been under the observation of the United States, which is growing increasingly concerned about armed gangs attacking vessels in the country's ports.