Modelling Security Aspects of Merchant Shipping: a Piracy setting

Konstantinos G. Gkonis, Harilaos N. Psaraftis, Nikolaos P. Ventikos

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


This paper concerns merchant shipping security and proposes a game theoretic model for modelling piracy threats and counteractions. Piracy has become a central concern for the international maritime community, especially after the recent tremendous increase in the number of piracy attacks in the Gulf of Aden and adjacent waters, off Somalia and the eastern coasts of Africa. This phenomenon has forced governments around the world into political and military action. However, the pirates appear to have adapted their operations to these developments. The piracy phenomenon is basically a security problem, where on one side the international community is seeking for measures to restrain attacks on merchant ships, while on the other side, pirates develop tactics and assess the existing situation in order to successfully place hijacking attacks. An interaction setting (game) is examined in the present approach between two players, a defender and anattacker. The defender (player 1) is a naval force command and the attacker (player 2) is the pirates “headquarters” (where their leaders plan their attacks). Two potential target areas for the pirates (and respective areas for the development of the naval forces) are considered, each of which is defined within certain geographical limits. Technically, this is an incomplete information game with information asymmetry. Following a number of assumptions, the analysis reaches interesting suggestions for the side of the defender, given the behaviour of the attacker. For example, regarding the target areas which should be defended and the level of defense measures, as a function of the expected damage costs that the shipping community might suffer, budget considerations, and damage expectations for any given defense strategy. In general, parametric analyses can be performed to reach useful results, regarding the optimal allocation of ships - defense measures, for given expectations (and not knowledge) for piracy activity.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2010
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Association of Maritime Economists Conference (IAME 2010) - Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 7 Jul 201010 Jul 2010


ConferenceInternational Association of Maritime Economists Conference (IAME 2010)


  • Shipping security
  • Piracy
  • Game theory

Cite this

Gkonis, K. G., Psaraftis, H. N., & Ventikos, N. P. (2010). Modelling Security Aspects of Merchant Shipping: a Piracy setting. Paper presented at International Association of Maritime Economists Conference (IAME 2010), Lisbon, Portugal.