The latest report from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reflects solid progress in the ongoing fight against maritime piracy – but attacks and kidnappings still happen.
On April 24, the IMB, part of the International Chamber of Commerce, said piracy on the world’s seas “is at its lowest first-quarter level since 2007” but also cautioned that “the threat is still present.”
According to the report, there were 49 reported piracy incidents in the first quarter of 2014. That’s the lowest number since 2007, when 41 incidents were identified.
“In the first three months, two vessels were hijacked, 37 vessels boarded, five vessels fired upon and five attempted attacks were reported,” the IMB noted. “Forty-six crew members were taken hostage and two kidnapped from their vessel.
“Off Somalia, five incidents were reported – the same number as the first quarter of 2013,” the organization continued. “In 2014, three attempted attacks were recorded and two vessels fired upon.”
IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan stated, “Although the number of attacks continues to remain low, the threat of Somali piracy is still clearly evident. There can therefore be no room for complacency, as it will take only one successful Somali hijacking for the business model to return. Masters are, therefore advised to maintain vigilance and adhere to the latest best management practices recommendations.”
The report points out an incident earlier this year when a tanker was fired upon near Oman from a skiff. The attack was thwarted and international navies “subsequently intercepted the mother ship – an Indian dhow which itself had been hijacked a few days previously. Eleven Indian crew members were freed and five suspected pirates apprehended. This incident demonstrates the essential role of the international navies in containing the threat of Somali piracy and why their presence must be maintained despite the drop in attacks.”
In a news release, the IMB further noted, “Off West Africa, 12 reports were recorded including the hijacking of two vessels with 39 crew taken hostage and two crew kidnapped from their vessel. Nigeria accounts for six incidents including the hijacking of a supply vessel, which was used unsuccessfully to hunt for other potential vessels to hijack….
“Angola saw its first reported hijacking in the first quarter of 2014 demonstrating the increased range and capability of Nigerian piracy if left unchecked…. Elsewhere, Indonesia ranks as the country with the highest number of attacks with 18 reports compared with 25 in the first quarter of 2013. Vessels were boarded in all the incidents. While these are predominantly low-level thefts from vessels, seven crewmembers were taken hostage in five incidents, while in four incidents it was reported that the robbers were armed with guns.”