Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Piracy Attacks on Shipping Continue to Fall Despite Surge of Kidnappings from Vessels

No Time for Complacency However with Violent Assaults Continuing
Shipping News Feature
WORLDWIDE – According to a new report from the International Chamber of Commerce's International Maritime Bureau (IMB), piracy and armed robbery at sea has fallen to its lowest levels since 1995, despite a surge in kidnappings off West Africa. Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB, whose global Piracy Reporting Centre has supported the shipping industry, authorities and navies for 25 years, spoke of the report’s findings, saying:

"This drop in world piracy is encouraging news. Two main factors are recent improvements around Indonesia, and the continued deterrence of Somali pirates off East Africa. But ships need to stay vigilant, maintain security and report all attacks, as the threat of piracy remains, particularly off Somalia and in the Gulf of Guinea."

A total of 98 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships have been reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre in the first half of 2016, the lowest number recorded since 1995 when the half yearly figure stood at 97. In the first half of 2016, 72 vessels were boarded, five hijacked, and a further 12 attempted attacks. Nine ships were fired upon. 64 crew were taken hostage, down from 250 in the same period last year.

Despite global improvements, kidnappings are on the rise with 44 crew captured for ransom in 2016, 24 of them in Nigeria, up from 10 in the first half of 2015. The report found that in the Gulf of Guinea there is an increasing number of incidents of crew being kidnapped for ransom, rather than oil tankers being hijacked for their cargo, the historically favoured choice of attack for the region, though with underreporting in the area a major concern the actual figures could be even higher and differ from these results.

The Gulf of Guinea accounted for seven of the world's 10 kidnapping incidents, with armed gangs boarding vessels 30 to 120 nautical miles from shore. Nigerian attacks are often violent, accounting for eight of the nine vessels fired upon worldwide.

Low-level theft to ships at anchor has been brought down by the introduction of more designated anchorages with improved security. This has contributed to a fall in the number of incidents in Indonesia to 24 in the first six months of 2016, compared with 54 in the same period in 2015.

Photo: Combined international military operations have done much to curtail pirate activity. Courtesy of US Department of Defense.