IMB: Global Piracy at 22-Year Low, Somalian Dangers Rise


Cases of piracy and armed robbery have hit a 22-year low, but great danger still faces many seafarers traveling near Somalia, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) received 180 incidents in 2017, the lowest figure since 188 in 1995.

However, Somalia had nine incidents near its coast in 2017, up from two in 2016.

In November, armed pirates attacked a containership approximately 280 nautical miles east of Mogadishu.

The pirates, unable to board the vessel due to the ship’s evasive manoeuvring fired two RPG rockets, both of which missed, before retreating.

Six Somali pirates were detained by the European Union Naval Force, transferred to the Seychelles and charged with “committing an act of piracy” where they face up to 30 years’ imprisonment, if convicted.

Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB, said: “This dramatic incident, alongside our 2017 figures, demonstrates that Somali pirates retain the capability and intent to launch attacks against merchant vessels hundreds of miles from their coastline.”

The globally figures for 2017 show that 136 vessels were boarded, while there were 22 attempted attacks, 16 vessels fired upon and six vessels hijacked.

In 15 separate incidents, 91 crewmembers were taken hostage and 75 were kidnapped from their vessels in 13 other incidents.

Three crewmembers were killed in 2017 and six injured.

These figures are dramatically down when compared to 2016, when a total of 191 incidents were reported, with 150 vessels boarded and 151 crewmembers taken hostage.

Read a PTI technical paper from Edition 57 on port security and the effect of piracy by the Security Association for the Maritime Industry

Beyond the global figures, the report underlined several takeaways from the past year.

There has been persistent danger in the Gulf of Guinea In 2017, with 36 reported incidents.

Although there were no vessels hijacked, 10 incidents of kidnapping took place involving 65 crewmembers in or around Nigerian waters.

Globally, 16 vessels reported being fired upon – including seven in the Gulf of Guinea.

Mukundan added: “Although the number of attacks is down this year in comparison with last year, the Gulf of Guinea and the waters around Nigeria remain a threat to seafarers.

“The Nigerian authorities have intervened in a number of incidents helping to prevent incidents from escalating.”

There were mixed results in Southeast Asia, with Indonesia recording 43 incidents in 2017, down from 49 in 2016.

The IMB report notes that Indonesian Marine Police patrols continue to be effective in the country’s 10 designated safe anchorages.

In the Philippines, however, the number of reported incidents has more than doubled, from 10 in 2016 to 22 in 2017.

According to the report, most of these incidents were low-level attacks on anchored vessels, mainly at the ports of Manila and Batangas.

Vessels underway off the Southern Philippines were boarded and crew kidnapped in the first quarter of 2017. 

However, alerts broadcast by the IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC), on behalf of the Philippine authorities, have since helped to avoid further successful attacks.

View the ICC IMB Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships infographic below:

Read more: A video highlighted by UK security brokerage company Asket allegedly shows pirates attacking a Singaporean vessel in the Gulf of Guinea on December 7, 2017

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