Global response

No room for complacency: maritime piracy incidents fall but crew safety remains at risk 

  • 11 July 2024

ICC’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB) is calling for sustained vigilance to protect seafarers amid increasing violence despite an overall drop in the number of incidents reported in its mid-year report for 2024, released today.

Sixty incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were recorded in the first half of 2024, a decrease from 65 incidents for the same period in 2023. 

“While we are reassured to see a fall in the number of overall reported acts of piracy, the concerning rise in incidents of a violent nature underscores the need for continued vigilance from the international community to ensure the safety of all seafarers — especially at this time of heightened uncertainty for maritime transport.” 

ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO

Of the 60 incidents reported, 46 vessels were boarded, eight reported attempted attacks, four were hijacked and two were fired upon. Perpetrators successfully boarded 84% of targeted vessels.  

Violence towards crew continues, with 85 taken hostage compared to 36 in the same period last year, 11 kidnapped and two threatened. Guns and knives were reported in 34 of the 60 incidents, a worrying increase from the same period last year.  

“While the decline in reported incidents is welcome, sustained and continued regional maritime cooperation remains essential to safeguard seafarers, global shipping and trade. There is no room for complacency.”

IMB Director Michael Howlett.

Caution urged around Somali waters 

Despite the decline in global reported incidents Somali piracy still poses a threat, with eight reported incidents in the first half of 2024, including three hijackings.  

Recent incidents demonstrate the continued capability and capacity of the Somali pirates to target vessels up to 1,000 nautical miles (nm) off the Somali coast. 

“We continue to urge caution around Somali piracy incidents and call on all vessel owners and Masters to harden their vessels and follow all recommended guidelines in the latest Best Management Practices while transiting Somali waters,” Mr Howlett said.  

Concern for crew in Gulf of Guinea 

Incidents have dropped from 14 to 10 in the Gulf of Guinea but threats to crew safety and wellbeing continue to be a cause of concern.

The region accounts for the 11 crew kidnapped globally in the first half of 2024 in two separate incidents and 21 of the crew taken hostage in one incident.

IMB reiterates the need for a continued and robust regional and international naval presence to respond to these incidents and safeguard life at sea.

Low reporting in Singapore Straits 

There is a noticeable decrease of reported incidents in the Singapore Straits from 13 in the first half of 2024 compared to 20 the same period last year. However, the targeting and boarding of large vessels transiting through these waters remains worrying.  

While considered low-level opportunistic crimes, 10 crew were taken hostage in six separate incidents with guns and knives reported in 10 incidents. 

Despite the decline of reported incidents, IMB is aware of incidents not being reported.  

Rising incidents in the Indonesian archipelagic region and Bangladesh

IMB has recorded 12 incidents in the Indonesian archipelago, the highest since the first half of 2020 when 15 incidents were reported.  

Two crew were reported as taken hostage and one threatened during these incidents. Knives were reported in six incidents and guns in one incident. This year, six incidents occurred at Dumai anchorage compared to one in the first half of 2023. 

Low-level incidents have increased in Bangladesh, up from one in the first six months of 2023 to ten in 2024. This is the highest reported number of incidents in the first half of a year since 2015. All vessels were at anchorage with nine incidents reported at Chattogram. 

Download your copy of the 2024-January to June- Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships report here.

The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre

Since its founding in 1991, IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre serves as a crucial, 24-hour point of contact to report crimes of piracy and lend support to ships under threat. Quick reactions and a focus on coordinating with response agencies, sending out warning broadcasts and email alerts to ships have all helped bolster security on the high seas. The data gathered by the Centre also provides key insights on the nature and state of modern piracy. 

IMB encourages all shipmasters and owners to report all actual, attempted and suspected global piracy and armed robbery incidents to the Piracy Reporting Centre as a vital first step to ensuring adequate resources are allocated by authorities to tackle maritime piracy.