The just released report, Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships, notes that by mid-2005, pirates boarded ships in 92 instances, six ships were hijacked, and a total of 176 crew members were taken hostage.
Of the world’s nations, Indonesia recorded the highest number of attacks, accounting for one third of the global total with 42 incidents. Violence and intimidation of crew continues to be a hallmark of piracy, with many attackers arming themselves with guns and knives.
While the decreasing number of attacks is a positive trend, the situation in several hot spots has deteriorated. After a quiet spell of nearly two years, serious attacks have resumed off the eastern coast of Somalia. In the past three months alone, eight violent incidents have been reported in the area. In each case, pirates armed with guns and grenades attacked ships and fired upon them. In at least four of these incidents, crew were held hostage for ransom.
“Pirates operating off the Somali coast have become increasingly audacious, routinely seizing vessels well outside territorial limits and forcing them closer to the lawless shore. Demands for ransom are higher than ever before and negotiations for the release of vessels and crew are often difficult and prolonged. The utter lack of law enforcement infrastructure in the area is leaving far too many vessels and mariners unprotected,” said Captain Pottengal Mukundan, Director of the IMB.
The report identifies other areas where piracy appears to be on the rise, including Nigeria and Iraq. Since 24 May 2005, four incidents have taken place in Nigeria’s Bonny River. In recent years, piracy in Iraq has been virtually non-existent; however despite the close proximity of coalition naval ships, four serious incidents were reported in the waters off the Basra oil terminal since 22 April 2005.
No incidents were reported in the ordinarily tumultuous Malacca Straits in the months following the 26 December 2004 tsunami. This period of calm appears to have ended, with eight violent attacks recorded since the end of February 2005.
Captain Mukundan added: “The IMB’s bi-annual report on piracy not only lists facts and figures, but also analyzes developments in piracy, identifying piracy-prone areas to help protect vessels and crew members.”
The work of the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre is funded by 25 organizations including P&I Clubs, ship owners and insurers. The Centre is recognized throughout the maritime industry for its unique contribution in quantifying the problem of world piracy and providing assistance, free of charge, to ships that have been attacked.