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Risk analysis for shipping under piracy threat
Swedish National Defence College, Department of Military Studies, Military-Technology Division.
2012 (English)Conference paper, Poster (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Many different security measures are suggested for ships under piracy threat by organisations such as the International Maritime Organisation. The effectiveness of the respective measures is discussed thru out the shipping industry, and different ship operators make different choices. It is important for the security of international shipping to further develop the anti-piracy measures.

Research has been carried out to describe piracy structures and also to analyse the effects on shipping. It has been shown that piracy is not random and that factors such as seize, speed, cargo and ship vulnerability affect the probability of a pirate attack (Meija et. al. 2009). More research is however needed to further describe the causal relationship that governs the probability and the consequences of an attack.

Results from research in risk-based ship design shows that rational risk-based analysis procedures can be used as a decision support tool to facilitate increased safety. The methods have been shown to be able to quantify safety risks as a result of failure of technical systems in their self, as well as incidents due to a combination of technical failure and human decisions. The merits of probabilistic risk assessment has however so far not been fully researched for security risks. The military practise regarding threat assessment and risk analysis for antagonistic threats (NATO RTO 2008) is nevertheless a indication of that it is likely that probabilistic risk assessment also can be very well suited for security risks such as piracy.

The study

The aim of this study is to evaluate how, based on probabilistic risk assessment procedures, the operation under piracy threat off the Horn of Africa can be analysed. This to support ship owners risk management, development of anti piracy measures and rule making. The purpose of introducing probabilistic risk assessment into the analysis of pirate attacks is to meet safety goals more effectively through a well-balanced combination of proactive and reactive measures whilst keeping focus on the intended overall purpose of the particular ship.

Based on research on piracy structures this study collects and documents pirate capacity, intention and opportunity to perform attacks based on expert judgment. This information is used as an input to an influence diagram approach to model the network of influences on a pirate attack (IMO 2002). Tools from military security-risk analysis (NATO RTO 2008) and military operational research (Jaiswal 1997) are used in the influence analysis to structure the analysis and to capture and describe relevant aspects.

The output of the influence analysis serves as system description for hazard identification and risk analysis.

The risk analysis output follows requirements on safety scenarios for risk-based ship design (Vassalos 2009) and the IMO formal safety analysis (IMO 2002). It is therefore possible to use the analysis output in ship owners risk management and maritime safety work.

The investigation also develops a test scheme for evaluating the output of the risk analysis against data from piracy reports. Based on statistical comparisons between analysis output and the piracy reports the reliability and sensitivity of the analysis is tested.

The outcomes of the study are:

  • a stringent documentation of the pirates’ capacity, intention and opportunity to perform attacks,
  • a better understanding of the casual relationships that governs the probability and consequences of an attack,
  • a statistically tested risk analysis, and
  • knowledge on the sensitivity of the risk analysis and the possibilities of the model to capture aspects of risks associated with piracy attacks.


ELLIS, J., FORSMAN, B., and Dausendschoen, K., Dangerous goods transport with open-top container vessels – risk analysis. SAFEDOR Deliverable D4.8.2., 2008.

IMO, Guidelines for formal safety assessment (FSA) for use in the IMO rule-making process, International Maritime Organisation, United Nations, 2002.

Jaiswal, N. K., Military Operations Research, Quantitative Decision Making, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1997.

Mejia, M. Q.  Jr, Carioub, P., and Wolff, F-C. Is maritime piracy random? Applied Economics Letters, 2009, 16, pp. 891–895.

NATO RTO, Improving Common Security Risk Analysis, RTO Technical Report TR-IST-049, Research and Technology Organisation of NATO, 2008.

VASSALOS, D. ed., Risk-Based Ship Design – Methods, Tools and Applications, Springer, 2009.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
shipping, piracy, risk analysis
National Category
Transport Systems and Logistics Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-2662OAI: diva2:534181
Transport Research Arena 2012
Available from: 2012-12-06 Created: 2012-06-15 Last updated: 2012-12-06Bibliographically approved

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