GAO Report on Maritime Security

Publication Type:

Journal Article



Connections: The Quarterly Journal, Volume 13, Issue 4, p.73-118 (2014)


Piracy and maritime crime continues to threaten ships off the Horn of Africa’s east coast and in the Gulf of Guinea off Africa’s west coast, putting seafarers in harm’s way and costing governments and industry billions of dollars in ransom, insurance, and protective measures. The types and causes of piracy and maritime crime, as well as the African states’ ability to address the problem in the two regions, differ. To help U.S. agencies coordinate efforts, the NSCS developed an interagency plan in 2008 to prevent, disrupt, and prosecute piracy off the Horn of Africa in collaboration with industry
and international partners. GAO was asked to evaluate U.S. counterpiracy activities.
This report: (1) assesses how piracy off the Horn of Africa has changed since our 2010 review, and describes U.S. efforts to assess its counterpiracy actions, given any changing conditions; and (2) identifies trends in piracy and maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea and U.S. efforts to address them, and evaluates the extent to which the United States has assessed its counterpiracy efforts in the Gulf of Guinea. GAO reviewed plans, activities, and data from 2007 through 2013 and interviewed officials from U.S. agencies, international partners, and industry, selected as a nongeneralizable sample for their involvement in counterpiracy activities.
GAO recommends that the NSCS, with the Secretaries of Defense and State, collaborate with the involved agencies to assess their efforts and to determine whether additional actions are needed to guide efforts in the Gulf of Guinea. The NSCS did not concur or non-concur with GAO’s recommendations but provided an update on its planning activities.