IMB advises continued vigilance as maritime piracy attacks decline
ICC International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) latest quarterly report on Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships recorded a total of 66 incidents worldwide in the first three months of 2013. This is down markedly from the 102 incidents reported for the corresponding period in 2012.
In the first three months of 2013, four vessels were hijacked, 51 vessels were boarded, seven were fired upon and four reported attempted attacks. Seventy five crew members were taken hostage, 14 kidnapped and one killed.
The Gulf of Guinea represents an area of concern with 15 incidents recorded, including three hijackings. Nigeria accounted for 11 incidents in the region. Guns were reported in at least nine of these attacks. An offshore supply vessel with 15 crew members was also hijacked. One crew member subsequently died as a result of a gunshot wound after his chemical tanker was fired upon at Lagos anchorage. A further 14 crew were kidnapped from four different vessels in Nigeria. At the time of the kidnappings, all the vessels were reported to be underway.
Further west in Africa, three incidents were recorded in the Ivory Coast, including the hijacking of two tankers. In early February, one such tanker was taken while underway, 70 nautical miles (nm) south of Abidjan and routed to Nigerian waters.
On the eastern side of Africa, Somalia recorded five incidents this quarter including the hijacking of a fishing vessel and its 20-member crew. In this case, the crew were freed by naval forces before the vessel reached Somalia. In the Indian Ocean, two vessels were fired upon. There were also two attempted attacks against Aframax sized tankers in the Gulf of Aden. Somali pirates continue to hold five vessels with 60 crew members on board and an additional 17 being held captive on land.
IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan commented: “Although the number of acts of piracy reported in Somalia has significantly decreased, there can be no room for complacency. The drop in reported attacks is due to proactive naval actions against suspect Pirate Action Groups, the employment of privately contracted armed security personnel and the preventive measures used by the merchant vessels (as per latest Best Management Practices recommendations). The attacks will rise to past levels if the naval presence is reduced or vessels relax their vigilance.”
The threat of Somali piracy remains very present, with a recent incident reported up to 400 nm east off Mogadishu this quarter. Twelve pirates were subsequently apprehended by naval forces after the target vessel managed to successively foil the initial attack.
The presence and response of the navies ensured that a hijacked Iranian fishing vessel was promptly released. These and other interdictions continue to highlight the important role played by the navies in keeping these incidents under control.
Outside of African waters, Indonesia was the country that recorded the highest number of attacks, with 25 incidents. While these were mainly low level thefts, vessels were boarded in 24 of the incidents, highlighting the need for vigilance in these waters. Vessels were either berthed or anchored in 22 of the boarded incidents, and underway in the remaining two. Vessels anchored at Dumai, Balikpapan and Belawan were targeted six, five and three times respectively.
The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) remains the world’s only manned centre to receive and disseminate reports of piracy and armed robbery 24 hours a day across the globe. As part of the ICC it is an independent body set up to monitor these attacks free of political interference.
IMB strongly urges all shipmasters and owners to report all actual, attempted and suspicious piracy and armed robbery incidents to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre. This is an essential first step in the response chain. The statistics and reports of the IMB PRC act as a catalyst to encourage firm response by government and law enforcement. The services of the IMB PRC are free of cost to ship owners and Masters.