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After a steady drop in global piracy, attacks rose 10% in Q1 2015

By EuroAsia Industry — last modified Apr 22, 2015 12:31 PM
A small coastal tanker is hijacked by pirates in South East Asia every two weeks on average, a new report from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has revealed. South East Asia accounted for 55 per cent of the world’s 54 piracy and armed robbery incidents that have occurred since the start of 2015. And worryingly, after a steady drop in global piracy over the last few years, attacks rose 10 per cent in the first quarter of 2015 compared to the same period of 2014.

Published: 2015-04-21 23:00:00
Topics: Piracy & Security

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Worldwide, pirates took 140 hostages in the first three months of this year – three times as many as during the same period in 2014. A total of 13 seafarers were assaulted and three were injured.

West Africa – hotspot for violent piracy

In West Africa, which has become a hotspot for violent piracy, one man was killed in the hijacking of a fishing vessel off Ghana. Five crew members were kidnapped by Nigerian pirates in two separate incidents in addition to a small product tanker being reported hijacked.

South East Asia hijacks on the rise

IMB has recorded 23 ship hijackings in South East Asia since April 2014, with six of those incidences taking place in the last three months. Most are carried out by armed gangs targeting small coastal tankers with the intention of stealing their cargoes of fuel. Five tankers and an offshore tug were hijacked in the first quarter.

“The frequency of these hijackings in South East Asia is an increasing cause for concern. There’s a risk that the attacks and violence could increase if left unabated,” said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB, which has been monitoring world piracy since 1991.

Malaysian authorities have detained one gang of hijackers, which are now awaiting trial. IMB has commended this action and calls for a stronger, more co-ordinated regional response to clamp down on piracy in South East Asian waters.

So far this year, the country that has racked up the highest number of attacks is Indonesia, accounting for almost 40 per cent of 2015 attacks, with two vessels hijacked and 19 vessels boarded. IMB reports that the overwhelming majority of incidents are low-level, opportunistic thefts, although the attackers in operation there are usually armed with knives, machetes or guns.

With eight reports of attacks in the past three months alone, Vietnam has seen an increase in armed robbery incidents. More and more thieves are breaking into ships at anchor in and around Hai Phong and Vung Tau.

Somali piracy kept at bay

The IMB Piracy Report shows zero incidents for Somalia in the first quarter of 2015 – a remarkable turnaround given that just a few years ago, the country's waters were considered amongst the world's most dangerous, with attacks occurring almost daily at the peak of the problem. However, the Bureau advises shipmasters to follow the industry’s Best Management Practices, as the threat of Somali piracy has not been totally eliminated.

Indeed, as the Chairman of global security and risk management specialist firm Infinite Security Solutions points out, Somalia's calmer waters remain very much dependent on robust safeguards being maintained throughout the region. Crucially, the success of the anti-piracy mission is today upheld by three pillars, he tells us. “The first pillar is the presence of naval forces in the region, the second is the implementation of best management practice throughout the sector, and the third is industry's acceptance of armed teams onto ships. If one of those pillars disappears, the problem in Somalia will inevitably return.” And that, he advises, is the view not only of security and risk management companies, but also the heads of naval forces, and the industry at large. “Worthy of note is that the EU and NATO have extended their support for securing shipping activities in the Gulf of Aden until the end of 2016 – that's how serious they see the situation and the need to have a military presence, in order to ensure that those three pillars remain intact,” he adds.

About the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre

The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre is the world’s only independent office to receive reports of pirate attacks 24-hours-a-day from across the globe. IMB strongly urges all shipmasters and owners to report all actual, attempted and suspected piracy and armed robbery incidents to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre. This first step in the response chain is vital to ensuring that adequate resources are allocated by authorities to tackle piracy. Transparent statistics from an independent, non-political, international organisation can act as a catalyst to achieve this goal.

IMB offers the latest piracy reports free of charge. To request a PDF version of the report by email, please visit:

Latest attacks may also be viewed on the IMB Live Piracy Map at:

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