Continuing decline in the number of reported incidents of maritime piracy and armed robbery against ships has been revealed in the second quarter piracy report of the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB). According to the report, the first half of 2017 saw a total of 87 incidents reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre compared with 97 for the same period of the previous year.
Recording some of the lowest figures seen in the last five-year period, the latest piracy report shows that in the first six-months of 2017, 63 vessels were boarded, 12 fired upon, four were 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 from their vessels, three injured and two killed.
The encouraging downward trend has been marred however by the hijacking of a small Thai product tanker en route from Singapore to Songkhla, Thailand. The hijacking, at the end of June, was conducted by six heavily armed pirates who transferred 1,500 MT of gas oil to another vessel. 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.
Somali pirates remain threat to merchant ships
The hijacking of an Indian dhow in early April was one of five incidents off Somalia reported in the second quarter of 2017. Added to a further three reports of vessels coming under fire and a bulk carrier being boarded by pirates in the Gulf of Aden, the incident reveals that Somali pirates still retain the skills and capacity to attack merchant ships far from coastal waters. The piracy report urges ship masters to maintain high levels of vigilance when transiting the high-risk area and to adhere to the latest version of best management practices.
Pirates in Nigeria continue to dominate when it comes to reports of kidnappings. 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 of the year.
Piracy and armed robbery
Since 1991 the IMB 24-hour-manned Piracy Reporting Centre, has provided the maritime industry, governments and response agencies with timely and transparent data on piracy and armed robbery incidents – received directly from the vessel masters or owners.
IMB strongly urges all shipmasters and owners to report all actual, attempted and suspected piracy and armed robbery incidents to the Piracy Reporting Centre. This first step in the response chain is vital to ensuring that adequate resources are allocated by authorities to tackle piracy. Transparent statistics from an independent, non-political, international organization can act as a catalyst to achieve this goal.
Source: ICC IMB Press Release.