Ninety-nine incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported in the first nine months of 2023, an increase from 90 incidents for the same period in 2022.
This year, 85 vessels were boarded, nine had attempted attacks, three were hijacked and two were fired upon. Perpetrators successfully boarded 89% of targeted vessels with most incidents occurring at night.
Even though reported violence towards crew members is among the lowest in three decades, the risk to crew remains real with 69 taken hostage, 14 kidnapped, eight threatened, three injured and one assaulted.
“The Gulf of Guinea stands as a region of concern with a rise in reported incidents, as opposed to the downward trend we have seen in the past two years. The IMB sees regional ownership as critical to safeguard shipping and trade and to address these crimes.”IMB Director Michael Howlett
Increase in incidents for Gulf of Guinea
Reported incidents increased in the Gulf of Guinea in the first nine months of 2023, from 21 compared to 14 for the same period in 2022. Seventeen were classified as armed robberies and four as piracy with a mounting concern for crew as 54 were taken hostage, 14 kidnapped and two were injured.
Worrying signs in the Singapore Straits
The Singapore Straits continues to raise concerns with 33 reported incidents in the first nine months of 2023 compared to 31 in the same period last year. Overall, 31 vessels were boarded with five crew taken hostage and two threatened with 25% of incidents reported in July. In most cases, ship stores or properties were reported stolen.
Considering the navigational challenges of the Singapore Straits, even low-level opportunistic incidents, could potentially increase the risk to safe navigation in these congested waters.
IMB also expresses concern over the risks of late or under reporting of these incidents and commends local authorities for investigating nearly all reported incidents.
“We encourage reporting any incident, even low-level opportunistic ones, to local authorities as early as possible to protect seafarers and ensure the safety of regional and international shipping and trade,”said Mr Howlett.
Rise in incidents in Indonesian Archipelago and South America
The IMB recorded an increase in the number of incidents in the Indonesian archipelagic region, with 12 incidents reported compared to 10 for the same period in 2020 and seven in 2021. Knives were sighted in five out of the 12 reported incidents.
Reports from Callao Anchorage in Peru have increased to 13 from eight in the same period in 2022, with reports of nine crew taken hostage and one member threatened and another assaulted.
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.
Download the January to September 2023 report here.