Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Piracy Incidents Against Merchant Vessels Down but Rise in Kidnapping in Gulf of Guinea

Global Report on First Quarter Sees No Hijacks Despite Attempts
Shipping News Feature
WORLDWIDE – Echoing our article last month the latest statistics from the International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau's (IMB) piracy reporting centre shows clearly that the Gulf of Guinea is now the world hotspot for maritime crime. The first quarter of 2019 saw the region account for all of the worldwide crew kidnappings as 21 crew members were abducted across five separate incidents.

Piracy and armed robberies accompanied the kidnap risk and incidents were reported in the coastal countries, of Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria and Togo. The tide has turned somewhat in Nigeria which reported a decrease with 14 piracy occurrences in Q1 2019 as against 22 in the same period the year previously.

Masters and crew are warned that, despite the increased success of Nigerian forces against the criminals, the area remains high risk with four incidents in the Port of Lagos itself. Globally there were 38 incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea reported, representing 28 fewer incidents than the first quarter of 2018 (66). IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre detailed that 27 vessels were boarded, seven vessels were fired upon and four attempted attacks occurred in the first quarter of 2019. No vessels were reported as hijacked for the first time since the first quarter of 1994.

In Asia, Indonesia witnessed a decrease in piracy activities for the first quarter of 2019. There were only three incidents reported against anchored vessels in ports in Indonesia, the fewest reported incidents since 2010, according to the report. As with Nigeria, increased cooperation and information sharing between the Indonesian Marine Police and IMB Piracy Reporting Centre has enabled regular patrols in high-risk areas. IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan, observed:

“These latest statistics from the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre are encouraging. However, first quarter statistics is too short a period on which to anticipate trends over the year. It confirms the importance of information sharing and coordinated action between the industry and response agencies. Going forward, it is critical to continue to build more effective reporting structures to enable a strong, unified response when dealing with piracy incidents.”

The IMB says the declining rate of piracy incidents worldwide in the first quarter of 2019 reinforces the importance of transparency, communication and coordination, between vessels and coastal authorities. By reporting all incidents to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre and coastal authorities the response can be better organised improving incident response times and prompt advice to vessels aimed at a more optimal use of resources. National governments and coastal authorities can use this data to collaborate and strengthen their piracy prevention efforts.

The IMB first quarter report can be downloaded in full HERE.

Photo: In 2010 pirates in a small skiff mistook the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland for a merchant vessel whilst she patrolled the Gulf of Aden. Things did not turn out well. (courtesy Navy Times).