Home / News & Speeches / Piracy takes higher toll of seamen’s lives

Pirate attacks worldwide increased in frequency and violence last year, with a total of 445 incidents reported compared with 370 in 200 2, the ICC International Maritime Bureau reported today.

This was
the second highest number of attacks since the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre in
Kuala Lumpur started compiling statistics in 1991. The highest number was 469
incidents in 2000.

 

The IMB’s
annual report, Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships, said 21 seafarers were
known to have been killed – compared with 10 the previous year – and 71 crew
and passengers were listed as missing.

 

Although
attacks in the Malacca Straits, one of the world’s busiest sea lanes, were up
from 16 to 28, almost all of these incidents were in Indonesian waters. No
attacks were reported in Malaysian waters during the last six months of the
year.

 

Captain
Pottengal Mukundan, Director of the IMB, said: “This remarkable result is
undoubtedly due to vigilant patrols and constant operations by the relevant
Malaysian authorities, particularly the Royal Malaysian Marine Police.

 

“The
Malaysian success proves once again that when law enforcement agencies take
these attacks seriously there will be a corresponding reduction in attacks. We
call upon countries with piracy problems to give greater priority to policing
their waters.”

 

The number
of attacks using guns rose to 100 from 68 in 2002 and hostages taken nearly
doubled to 359 seafarers. Ships were boarded in 311 instances and a total of 19
ships were hijacked.

 

Indonesian
waters continue to be the most piracy-prone, with 121 reported incidents in
2003, followed by Bangladesh with 58 attacks and Nigeria with 39.

Attacks off
Nigeria almost tripled compared with last year to 39, making Nigerian waters
the most dangerous in Africa for attacks on shipping.

 

The report
showed some new trends. Hijackings of merchant vessels and their cargoes ceased
last year. All hijackings reported were in two main categories – military-style
operations by militant groups seeking to hold crew members for ransom to raise funds
for their cause and attacks against soft targets such as tugs and barges.

 

Attacks on
tankers rose to 22% of the total. Captain Mukundan commented: “That these
ships carrying dangerous cargoes may fall temporarily under the control of
unauthorized and unqualified individuals is a matter of concern, for both
environmental and safety reasons.”

 

The IMB
also reported an increase in coordinated attacks involving several boats at
once, especially in Indonesian waters of the Malacca Strait and around Bintan
Island. The attackers approach a target ship from different directions and
spray the superstructure with gunfire in an attempt to get her to stop.

 

 

IMB homepage 

Annual Piracy Report  

Live piracy maps 

 

ICC Commercial Crime Services homepage