Piracy figures up by 20% for first quarter of 2008

  • 15 April 2008

There were 49 attacks reported to the Piracy Reporting Centre in the first three months of 2008 as compared to 41 for the corresponding period in 2007, states the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) in its latest quarterly piracy report.

A total of 36 vessels were boarded and one vessel hijacked. Seven crew members were taken hostage, six kidnapped, three killed and one missing – presumed dead. In the majority of incidents, the attackers were heavily armed with guns or knives. The use and threat of violence against crew members remains unacceptably high.

“It is essential that the serious incidents are carefully analysed and the lessons learnt made available to all owners and their advisors who fall victim to serious attacks,” said IMB Director Capt Pottengal Mukundan. “This kind of data is invaluable in updating preventative and response measures on board vessels as well as identifying the pirates and the groups they operate in. In most other industries, a rigorous analysis of serious incidents for the benefit of others is a necessary part of the loss prevention regime,” he added.

Nigeria ranks as the number one hotspot this quarter accounting for just over 20% of the figures with ten incidents reported. Vessels have been fired upon and crew injured as a result. Many of the attacks are concentrated off Lagos.

India and the Gulf of Aden shared second place with five reported incidents each. The incidents in India were low level attacks aimed at theft from the vessel. The attacks in the Gulf of Aden are all aimed at hijacking the vessel and taking it to small ports on the Eastern coast of Somalia.

An encouraging trend this quarter highlights for the first time in the last decade, that Indonesia is no longer ranked with the highest number of reported incidents. There has been a sustained decrease in the number of reported attacks in the archipelago leading up to only four incidents reported this quarter. Indonesia ranks fourth in this quarter’s figures and the Indonesia Navy and the Police should be commended for the anti-piracy measures taken.

Waters around Somalia continue to be notorious for hijacking of vessels and the abduction of crew for ransom. The locations of these attacks have moved from the Eastern Coast of Somalia to the north and northeastern coast and the Gulf of Aden. There was only one attempted attack off the eastern coastline some 390 nm from the coastline. The tug Svitzer Korsakov was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden. The heavier concentration of traffic in the Gulf of Aden means the pirates do not have to range as far away from the coast, although they now operate in an area with a large number of Coalition Naval vessels at hand.

There have been no reported incidents for the Malacca Straits this quarter. This can again be attributed to the enhanced cooperation between the littoral states. There is no room for complacency. It is vital that law enforcement resources remain deployed in this area if the attacks are not to resume.

The IMB strongly urges all Ship Masters, Owners, shipping industry bodies and the respective flag states to report all incidents of actual and attempted piracy and armed robbery to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre. These attacks are always passed on immediately to the nearest law enforcement agency and followed up by the Centre. The reports are a vital first step in the response mechanism. The IMB is aware that a number of incidents go unreported each year due to various local fears and pressures upon Masters.

The PRC also provides immediate advice to Ships’ Masters under attack, and through local authorities have co-ordinated medical assistance and support.