The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has reported that so far this year, 250 crew members have been taken hostage, 14 assaulted, 10 kidnapped, nine injured and one killed in incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships across the globe.
IMB said its Piracy Reporting Centre tallied 134 incidents of piracy and armed robbery, an increase on the 116 reports in the first half of 2014. Pirates boarded 106 vessels, carrying out 13 hijackings and 15 attempted attacks.
Of this number, three events were reported in the second quarter of the year with a total of 11 piracy incidents accounting for 10 crew kidnappings recorded in Nigeria in the first half of 2015.
The IMB, in its half-year report stated that elsewhere in West Africa, 45 seafarers were taken hostage off the coast of Ghana with one killed.
“In many incidents, pirates hijacked the vessels for several days and ransacked the vessels and stole part cargo usually gas oil.
“A number of crewmembers were also injured and kidnapped in past attacks. Generally, all waters in/off Nigeria remain risky. Vessels are advised to be vigilant, as many attacks may have gone unreported,” IMB noted.
The piracy watchdog also noted that although no attacks have been reported off Somalia in the second quarter, “IMB advises that the security situation in the Horn of Africa remains uncertain”.
“IMB urges ship masters to remain vigilant when transiting these waters and to adhere to the industry’s Best Management Practice,” the report stated.
The report said Southeast Asia continues to be a hot spot for crime, with five hijackings in the second quarter continuing a trend of a hijack roughly every fortnight.
Reports from Indonesia accounted for more than a third of all reports and have been on an upward trend, from 16 reports in H1 2010 to 54 in the same period this year, although mostly opportunistic theft from ships with three hijackings and three attempted attacks.
IMB has noted some improvement in Southeast Asia however, as regional authorities increase their cooperation and increase detection capabilities. An eight-man gang of pirates was arrested in June, and nine Indonesian pirates were convicted and handed significant custodial sentences for the January hijacking of a product tanker.
By Pita Ochai