About the CMPD

The CMPD includes information on maritime piracy attacks from 1991 through 2018, with over 10,000 cases worldwide. Each attack lists information on the date, time, location, target vessel characteristics, victimization, responsible party details, arms, responses, and evasion tactics. The database is currently the most comprehensive maritime piracy database available and includes over 50 distinct variables. Empirical, comprehensive cataloguing of piracy data allows for the continued monitoring of the changing nature and trends of contemporary piracy.

Throughout history, piracy has morphed. In the first decade of this dataset, 1991-2000, overt forms of state piracy were exhibited as well as phantom ship piracy. The second wave, 2001-2010, shows no incidents of either of these types of piracy, instead Somali piracy became the dominant issue. More recently, piracy has changed again with different geographic locations and modus operandi.

The CMPD makes it possible to understand the changes in piracy tactics, nature, and trends, which in turn provide for evidence-based policy formulation and targeted allocation of resources. The data can be searched and browsed online; for deeper analytical research, the entire database can be downloaded.

History of the CMPD

The CMPD project began in 2008 in response to the lack of comprehensive datasets on current forms of maritime piracy for research and analytical purposes. The database has been created, updated and managed by Dr. Twyman-Ghoshal as part of her ongoing research on maritime piracy. This online interface is aimed at bringing this work into the public domain in an effort to increase the general understanding of contemporary maritime piracy.

Data Collection Methods

The CMPD is compiled from two major sources – the International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau (IMB) piracy reports and the United States National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGIA) world-wide threats to shipping summaries.

The integrated CMPD includes all non-duplicated reported attacks of maritime piracy between 1991-2018. The IMB is the primary source of information on piracy attacks globally, providing the majority of the CMPD data. The NGIA, however, adds a substantial amount to this dataset, around 25 percent.

01. The IMB

The IMB is the principal international organizations dealing with maritime piracy. In October 1992, it established the Piracy Reporting Center (PRC) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The PRC is a 24-hour operated center receiving and disseminating reports of piracy and armed robbery. The PRC collects self-reports from captains or owners of ships that have been the victim of a pirate attack; each report is logged using a standard report template. The PRC is tasked primarily with issuing status reports on piracy and armed robbery to ships via broadcasts using a global satellite communication service. In addition, the IMB issues quarterly and annual reports detailing the information collected by the PRC.

02. The NGIA

The NGIA provides maritime safety information for U.S. shipping. The NGIA messages provide the location and description of hostile acts against ships and mariners at sea. This information is summarized in the NGIA monthly Worldwide Threat to Shipping Reports and the weekly Piracy Analysis and Warning Reports. The NGIA receives its information from self-reports as well as reports from a variety of sources, including navies and coast guards from around the world, press reports, the IMB, and other maritime organizations.

The process of integration of these two data sources was made easier by the fact that both sources provided comparable information in their reports. The choice of variables coded was driven by the availability of information in the attack descriptions. For each event, information is available on the date and location of the attack, the type of vessel victimized, and when available, information on the responsible party, the types casualties, and the weapons used.

For detailed documentation of the methods and variables used in the dataset, please consult the CMPD Codebook.