Thursday, October 17, 2019

Global Piracy Incidents Down Thanks to Naval Intervention and Best Management Practices

Quarterly Report Shows Decline in Maritime Crime
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – Regular readers will remember that, not so long ago before Brexit became the be all and end all of headlines, piracy off the coasts of Somalia was the dominant issue of the day. Thanks to the unstinting efforts of the combined naval task forces and the Best Management Practices undertaken by vessels and their crews, the third quarter report from the International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau (IMB) records no incidents in the region.

That of course is not to say there are now no risks, As the IMB advises, although no incidents have been reported, Somali pirates continue to possess the capacity to carry out attacks in the Somali basin and wider Indian Ocean. As a result, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) advises ship owners to remain cautious when transiting these waters.

The overall global picture shows that maritime crime remains a problem although there have been fewer incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships than the first nine months of 2018. 119 incidents of Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships have been reported to the IMB PRC in 2019, compared to 156 incidents for the same period in 2018. Overall, the 2019 incidents include 95 vessels boarded, 10 vessels fired upon, 10 attempted attacks, and four vessels hijacked. The number of crew taken hostage through the first nine months has declined from 112 in 2018 to 49 in 2019.

While the overall number of incidents may have dropped, incidents involving guns and knives remain consistent. There have been 24 knife-related and 35 gun-related incidents reported in 2019, compared to 25 and 37 for the first nine months of 2018. These statistics confirm IMB’s concerns over continued threats to the safety and security of seafarers.

The Gulf of Guinea is now without doubt one of the most dangerous regions and remains a high risk area for both piracy and armed robbery. The region accounts for 86% of crew taken hostage and nearly 82% of crew kidnappings globally. Pottengal Mukundan, Director, ICC IMB, commented:

“Although incidents are down, the Gulf of Guinea continues to be a concern for piracy and armed robbery-related activities with kidnappings of crew members increasing in both scale and frequency. It is important that shipmasters and owners continue to report all actual, attempted, and suspected incidents to ensure that an accurate picture of these attacks emerge and action is taken against these criminals before the incidents further escalate.”

In July a general cargo vessel was hijacked approximately 120 nautical miles SW from Brass. Ten crew members were kidnapped from the vessel and released four weeks later. In August a bulk carrier and a general cargo vessel were boarded within hours of each other at Douala anchorage, Cameroon and a total of seventeen crew were kidnapped from the vessels. Within six weeks all kidnapped crew were released. This incident demonstrates the range of piracy activity in the Gulf of Guinea and that all types of ships are vulnerable to attack. Lagos recorded 11 incidents in 2019, the highest number for any port.

Meanwhile, Indonesia reported a decline in overall piracy related incidents with 20 actual and attempted attacks for the first nine months of 2019. Over the past five years, Indonesia has gradually reduced its share of piracy related incidents. As recently as 2015, Indonesia reported 86 actual and attempted piracy incidents through Q3. Indonesia’s impressive gains can be attributed to continued information sharing between the Indonesian Marine Police and the IMB PRC.

To obtain the full version of the IMB PRC report apply here.