The International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB) recently released their “Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships” report for the period Jan. 1-Sept. 30, 2019. The overall data shows that piracy numbers are down across the globe, with the total numbers for the period almost identical to the same period in 2017.
The total number of incidents through the first three months of 2019 was 119, which breaks down as follows: 10 vessels fired upon, 10 attempted attacks, four hijacked vessels and 95 vessels boarded. The single largest concentration of attacks was in the waters near Nigeria, with 29 separate incidents, followed by Indonesia with 20.
While the number of hostages taken in attacks has sharply fallen from last year’s report, that fall is due in part to an uptick in kidnappings, with 70 incidents of kidnapping occurring during the period. As stated in the report, “As a region, the Gulf of Guinea accounts for 86 percent of those crew taken hostage and for almost 82 percent of the crew kidnappings globally.”
Bulk carriers remain the most popular target for pirates, and ships were most likely to be attacked while they were at anchor. Continuing a trend since 2016, small arms were the most common weapon used in attacks.
According to the report, “In East Africa, no incidents have been reported for Somalia in 2019. IMB continues to urge masters however to maintain high levels of vigilance when transiting these waters and to follow the latest BMP recommendations. Elsewhere, the number of mainly low-level reports for Indonesia has dropped from 31 in 2018 to 20 in 2019.”
There was also a death reported during the period, as stated in the report: “Pirates armed with machine guns in two speed boats approached an offshore support vessel underway. The Captain immediately notified the naval escort security boat which maneuvered to engage the attackers. One speed boat closed in from port side of the vessel and crossed the bow, while the other speed boat engaged fire with the security boat. Alarm raised, crew proceeded to the engine room and all power was shut down. The pirates boarded the vessel with the aid of an elongated ladder. They broke into the accommodation, vandalized the cabins and took crew belongings and vessel’s properties. The pirates then proceeded to the engine room, kidnapped five men and escaped. The remaining crews sailed the vessel under escort to a safe anchorage. One Nigerian Navy armed guard reported killed in the exchange of fire between the naval security boat and the pirates.”
Launched in 1991, the IMB Piracy Reporting Center (PRC) is a 24-hour manned facility that provides the maritime industry, governments and response agencies with timely and transparent data on armed robbery incidents received directly from the master or owner of vessels.