Since the problem of piracy in the Horn of Africa (HOA) region began to escalate in the late summer of 2008, the Maritime Administration (MARAD) has been very involved in working with other Federal agencies (particularly the U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of State) to address the risks and develop strategies to protect commercial shipping. This has included frequent interaction with the U.S.-flag maritime industry, labor, and with international shipping associations. MAR-400 staff serves on the U.S. Delegation to the International Maritime Organization’s Maritime Safety Committee where piracy issues are deliberated and guidance developed. In addition, MAR-400 is represented with the U.S. Delegation on the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia since January 2009. This group typically meets twice a year at the United Nations, and has five working groups covering five key focus areas: military, legal, industry awareness, diplomacy, and finance; towards eliminating piracy.

The following actions by government and industry during the past several years appear to have substantially helped in limiting the rate of successful pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia.  (MARAD has supported the development and implementation of these piracy mitigation strategies):

•         The development of “Best Management Practices (BMP) to Combat Piracy” by international maritime shipping organizations.

•         International development and acceptance of International Maritime Organization (IMO) circulars and annexes which provide advice to flag states and industry on preventing successful pirate attacks.

•         Frequent publishing of updated MARAD and ONI threat advisories.

•         The development and implementation of U.S. Coast Guard maritime security directives which provide shipping companies with specific, risk-based measures to take in order to deter, detect, and disrupt piracy.

•         The support of international navies including combined Maritime Force vessels (CTF-151, NATO, EUNAVOR) and vessels from other navies which have increased naval presence in the region and are patrolling and escorting vessels in the Horn of Africa (HOA) region.

In addition, MARAD has coordinated with Military Sealift Command to establish an Anti- Piracy Assistance Team (APAT). The team consists of one or two NCIS representatives and one MARAD representative who visit and assess U.S.-flag vessels in U.S. ports, and provide a report to the Master and Company Security Officer.  This is a voluntary program, which has been well received by industry. More than 50 such assessments have been completed since the program began in April 2009

As an industry facilitator to meet security challenges, one of the roles of the Maritime Administration (MARAD) is to provide useful information to both the private and public sectors in the event of a transportation crisis.

The POC(s) for agency efforts in this area is Robert Ford, Acting Director, Office of Security, (202) 366-0223,

Regional Piracy

Horn of Africa

Piracy off the coast of Somalia escalated in 2008 causing a significant disruption to the Marine Transportation System (MTS), as well as endangering the life of merchant mariners. As part of the Maritime Administration (MARAD) action plan for addressing piracy off the Horn of Africa (HOA), pertinent information is consolidated on this site for easy access to current status and advice to counter-piracy and armed robbery. The information is intended to assist ship owners, operators, and other maritime industry representatives to be prepared to prevent seajackings.

Gulf of Guinea

Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea has trended up in 2012.  Pirates in the region have attacked ships in order to rob from the crew and steal ship stores as opposed to Somali pirates that kidnap the crew for ransom payments.

South East Asia

Additional information on piracy in South East Asia can be found at

United States National Security Council

Countering Piracy off The Horn of Africa: Partnership & Action Plan

Maritime Advisories


Counter Piracy Measures


Information Services




Contact Group on Piracy Off the Coast of Somalia

Useful Links

Congressional Hearings

Congressional Hearings Archive