Excitement is definitely among the last things people expect to get when it comes to international shipping. While the perks of managing such a business may be clear in the modern context, being the sailor who handles the delivery seems far less interesting. However, few people are aware of the frights sailors often get to experience when shipping goods across international waters. Here is a short list of the most frightening shipping waters, just to get an idea of how animated this job can be.
No. 1: The waters around Indonesia and the Malay Peninsula
One of the articles in the Australian Herald Sun wrote that the figures associated with the shipping industry point to the waters around Indonesia and Malay Peninsula being the main attraction for pirates. Not only is pirate activity the most intense in this area, but it seems to keep intensifying, causing significant distress among international shippers. The same article also wrote that according to the International Maritime Bureau, approximately 90% of recent attacks resulted in crew members being assaulted by pirates.
No. 2: The Suez Canal
The reputation of the Suez Canal as being a bottleneck indeed precedes it. And this comes with a number of different explanations.
The Egyptian narrow straight plays an essential role in the world economy as a result of the extremely intense shipping activity it hosts. Just to get an idea, Middle East oil suppliers deliver a significant fraction of their oil to the United States and other countries in need of oil resources through this straight.
However, the cause for alarm derives from the instability of the Egyptian state, both political and social. This instability reflects in the poor security of the Suez Canal, which has become vulnerable to attacks and has been threatened with closure. In fact, the Suez Canal owes its second place on the list of the most frightening international shipping waters primarily to its current security status. Moreover, its potential closure would result in the cargo ships being rerouted rather than trapped at sea, despite this being in fact an imaginable scenario. Of course, the shutdown of the Suez Canal would have a massive economic impact, but it would not paralyse the world’s shipping activity.
It should be noted that it would not be the first time the Suez Canal was closed down. According to National Geographic, a similar security measure was taken back in 1967, the Canal being shut down up until 1975 as a result of the six-day war between the Arabs (Egypt, Syria and Jordan) and Israelis. Oil tankers were then rerouted to reach their destinations in the West after going around the Cape of Good Hope.
Coming back to the present context, all assumptions and fictitious scenarios left aside, the Suez Canal is currently one of the most unsafe international shipping waters, presenting very high security risks as a result of being a strategic target of political activists and terrorists.
And the list goes on…