UN correspondent John J. Metzler wrote a useful update on 4 May 2012 concerning the success rate of Somali pirates. While Somali pirates captured 28 vessels in the first half of 2011, they captured only 3 in the second half of the year. So far in 2012, the pirates have seized only 4 commercial ships. A year ago, Somali pirates held 24 ships and 500 sailors; today they hold 7 ships and 200 sailors. On the other hand, pirates took in an estimated record $150 million in ransom demands in 2011. Click here to read the short article.
Metzler attributes the reduced pirate success rate in large part to the counter measures taken by the international naval force. While this has certainly played a role, I believe the more important reason for the lower success rate has been the counter measures taken by ship owners. This includes avoiding some of the most dangerous areas, faster speed, protecting low free board and, especially, adding security teams to vessels and authorizing them to shoot back. Somali pirates understand a forceful response.