Piracy incidents dip to five-year low

Maritime piracy and armed robbery against ships have dipped to the lowest number in five years, according to the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) report, though the decline has been marred by the more serious incidents of vessel hijacking.

Recording some of the lowest figures seen in the last five-year period, the latest piracy report shows that in the first half of 2017, there were a total of 87 reported incidents, compared to 98 in the same period of last year.

In comparison, there were 138 incidents in the first half of 2013, 116 in the first half of 2014, and 134 in the first half of 2015.

Among the 87 incidents in the first half of this year, 63 vessels were boarded, 12 fired upon, four hijacked and attacks were attempted on another eight vessels. A total of 63 crew have been taken hostage so far this year while 41 have been kidnapped, three injured and two killed.

Also among the 87 cases, 19 were product tankers, 18 were bulk carriers, seven were chemical tankers, and 43 were other vessels.

One of the most recent case happened at end-June when six heavily armed pirates hijacked a small Thai product tanker en route from Singapore to Songkhla, Thailand.

The incident followed a similar pattern to a series of product tanker hijackings in the region which occurred approximately every two weeks between April 2014 and August 2015, according to the ICC IMB report.

“To prevent criminal gangs carrying out attacks on other product tankers, the IMB PRC is calling on Malaysian and Indonesian authorities to take robust action, in the same vein as their response which brought perpetrators of the previous spate of attacks to justice,” said Mukundan, director of IMB.

Elsewhere at the Horn of Africa, Somali pirates continue to pose grave threats to merchant ships, with the hijacking of an Indian dhow in early-April among one of five reported incidents off Somalia in the second quarter.

Pirates in Nigeria, on the other hand, continues to dominate when it comes to reports of kidnapping. So far this year they have been responsible for the abduction of 31 crew in five reported incidents. The numbers include 14 crew members taken from two separate vessels in the second quarter.

Violence against crew members continues with half of all reports of vessels being fired upon coming from Nigeria, the ICC IMB report stated.

Recognising the need to get a clearer understanding of the depth of under-reporting in the Gulf of Guinea region, the IMB in association with Oceans Beyond Piracy, has proposed the idea of a ‘Community of Reporting’, a project aimed at encouraging all stakeholders to share reports of piracy and armed robbery with the IMB.

Posted 05 July 2017

© Copyright 2019 Seatrade (UBM (UK) Ltd). Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Seatrade.

Lee Hong Liang

Asia Correspondent

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