Friday, November 2, 2018

Global Piracy and Kidnapping from Merchant Ships Rises in 2018

Hijacks and Robbery at Sea Analysed in Latest Report
Shipping News Feature
WORLDWIDE – Following on from our global piracy report last month the ICC International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) has now produced figures comparing the number of serious attacks on ships in the first 9 months of 2018 against the figures for last year, and the news is not good as attempted hijacks and robberies were up 29% against the 2017 figures.

Whereas the Somali coast was previously always the hotbed of pirate activity, actions taken by the international naval task forces has reduced such attacks considerably. A spectacular example of the tactics can be seen in this video from EU NAVFOR taken just a few days ago when it apprehended a pirate whaler as we reported previously.

Now it appears the Gulf of Guinea is firmly in the number one spot for attacks with over a third of those reported happening in the region. To the end of September 2018 there were a total of 156 global incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships reported, broken down as 107 vessels boarded, 32 attempted attacks, 13 vessels fired upon and four vessels hijacked (although no vessels were reported as hijacked in the third quarter of 2018). This is first time since 1994 when no vessel hijackings have been reported in two consecutive quarters.

The 57 attacks in the Gulf of Guinea saw 41 of them in Nigerian waters which has seen the Nigerian Navy responding by sending out patrol boats when incidents have been reported promptly. There has also been a noticeable increase in the number of vessels boarded at the Takoradi anchorage, in Ghana. The biggest problem in the area is that of kidnapping, with 37 of the 39 global incidents of this nature occurring in the Gulf region.

A total of 29 crew members were kidnapped in four separate incidents off Nigeria, including a 12-crew kidnapping from a bulk carrier off Bonny Island, Nigeria in September 2018. This makes the crime a geographical anomaly and harks back to a history of resentment by locals at the widespread destruction of habitat and homesteads in the region, something the indigenous population blames on international oil companies and corrupt politicians.

Elsewhere in the world things have been relatively quiet. No new incidents have been reported off the coast of Somalia in the third quarter of 2018, while two fishermen were reported kidnapped off Semporna, Malaysia in September 2018. Despite this the IMB reiterates its advice for crews and masters to take all appropriate precautions and promptly report any incidents, whether actual, attempted or suspected piracy and armed robbery incidents on the IMB PRC website.

The latest IMB report can be obtained via this link.

Photo: A clip from the EU NAVFOR Video.