Worldwide this year,
pirates have killed at least six crew and taken 448 seafarers hostage. The IMB
Piracy Reporting Centre recorded that 125 vessels were boarded, 24 hijacked and
26 fired upon. In addition, 58 attempted attacks were reported.
The drop in Somali piracy
has brought global figures for piracy and armed robbery at sea down to 233
incidents this year – the lowest third quarter total since 2008. In the first
nine months of 2012, there were 70 Somali attacks compared with 199 for the
corresponding period in 2011. And from July to September, just one ship
reported an attempted attack by Somali pirates, compared with 36 incidents in
the same three months last year.
IMB says policing and
interventions by international navies are deterring pirates, along with ships’
employment of Best Management Practice
including the use of armed guards and other onboard security measures.
“We welcome the successful
robust targeting of Pirate Action Groups by international navies in the high
risk waters off Somalia, ensuring these criminals are removed before they can
threaten ships,“ said Captain Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB, a membership
organization that has monitored world piracy since 1991. “It’s good news that
hijackings are down, but there can be no room for complacency: these waters are
still extremely high-risk and the naval presence must be maintained.”
Hostages still waiting
As of 30 September
2012, suspected Somali pirates were holding 11 vessels for ransom with 167 crew
members as hostages onboard. In addition, 21 kidnapped crew members are being
held on land. IMB says more than 20 hostages have now been held for over 30
Violent attacks spreading through the Gulf of Guinea
Piracy in the Gulf of
Guinea is becoming increasingly dangerous (34 incidents from January to
September 2012, up from 30 last year) and has pushed westward from Benin to
neighbouring Togo. IMB said attacks are
often violent, planned and aimed at stealing refined oil products which can be
easily sold on the open market. To cover their tracks once the vessel is
hijacked, pirates damage the communication equipment and at times even the
Togo reported more
attacks this year than in the previous five years combined, with three vessels hijacked,
two boarded and six reporting attempted attacks. Off Benin, one ship was
hijacked and one boarded. Nigeria accounted for 21 attacks, with nine vessels
boarded, four hijacked, seven fired upon and one attempted attack.
Not all navies in the
Gulf of Guinea have the resources to fight piracy far out at sea, so criminal
gangs shift to other areas. The Nigerian navy must be commended however on its
reactions to a number of incidents where their presence was instrumental in
rescuing vessels, said Captain Mukundan.
Indonesia recorded 51
incidents in the first nine months of 2012, up from an annual 2011 total of 46.
Attacks tended to be opportunistic and mainly carried out onboard vessels at
anchor. Vessels were boarded in 46 of the 51 reports, which IMB highlights as a
cause for concern.
Elsewhere in South
East Asia, ships have been hijacked this year in the Malacca Straits, South China
Seas and around Malaysia. IMB warned
that these waters are still not entirely free of piracy or armed robbery and
vessels should remain vigilant and alert.
IMB offers the latest
piracy reports free of charge. Request a PDF version of the report by email.
Latest attacks may
also be viewed on the IMB Live Piracy Map.