Although much emphasis has been on the severity of piracy activity in Gulf of Guinea, the Southeast Asian and Western Indian Ocean regions have been exposed to acts of piracy and armed robbery on vessels – demonstrating that such incidents are not restricted only to known “high risk area” regions, reports Skuld website.
IMB piracy and armed robbery report
The IMB piracy and armed robbery report of September 2021 (Q3) released the following statistics for the January to September 2021 period:
Ninety-seven vessels have reported incidents to the IMB PRC in the first nine months of 2021. Under the definitions of piracy and armed robbery at sea, 85 vessels were boarded, nine reported attempted attacks, two vessels were fired upon, and one vessel hijacked.
In 25% of the reported incidents crew were directly impacted, with 51 crew reported kidnapped, eight taken hostage, five threatened, three injured, two assaulted and one killed.
Gulf of Guinea
28 incidents were reported within the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) region in the first nine months of 2021 – including the kidnapping of one crew member and 31 crew taken in five separate incidents. It is noticeable that all Q3 2021 incidents occurred at port anchorages whereas for Q3 2020 the average distance from shore of the successful kidnappings were 100 NM and with the furthest almost 200 NM out.
Waters off Somalia
There has been a sustained lull in reported piracy incidents off the coast of Somalia and the wider Indian Ocean leading to the shipping industry reducing the designated High Risk Area (HRA). However, on 16 October an Iranian warship prevented an attack by pirates against two oil tankers that it was escorting in the Gulf of Aden. This would make the 6th reported approach in the region within 2021.
IMB’s data reported incidents of armed robberies at ports in South and Central America, as well as the Caribbean, which are typically linked to drug trafficking. There were also reported attacks on offshore support vessels operating in the southern rim of the Gulf of Mexico.
Callao anchorage in Peru continues to be an area of concern with 15 incidents reported in 2021, the highest number of reported incidents since 1991. Whilst also viewed as low level opportunistic thefts, knives were reported in 60% of the incidents. Three crewmembers were taken hostage and over 30% involved assaults and threats to the crewmembers. All vessel types are targeted.
Singapore Straits: 41 incidents were reported from vessels transiting the Singapore Straits since January 2021 to date – the highest number recorded since 1991. Although classified as low-level opportunistic thefts, the perpetrators continue to pose a direct risk to seafarers and vessels underway.
Indonesia: There was a noticeable reduction in the number of reported incidents in Indonesian waters with 10 low level reported incidents up to October 2021 compared to 23 incidents in 2020.
Philippines: 11 incidents have been reported from mainly container vessels boarded while anchored in Manila Bay, Philippines for the January to October 2021 period.
The ReCAAP ISC is concerned with the increasing number of incidents in the Singapore Strait. Since January 2021, there was a growing cluster of incidents off Tanjung Pergam, Bintan Island (25 incidents) and an increase of incidents off Nongsa, Batam Island (9 incidents). The ReCAAP ISC has issued seven Incident Alerts (latest alert 2 December 2021), warning the maritime community of the continued occurrence of incidents in the Singapore Strait and a possibility of further incidents.
This includes 6 reported incidents occurring during 1 November to 1 December 2021, on board vessels underway in the Singapore Strait, of which five incidents occurred in the eastbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) and one incident in the precautionary area. As the perpetrators are not arrested, there is a possibility of further incidents in the Singapore Strait.
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