A total of 180 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported to the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB) in 2017, according to the latest IMB report.
This is the lowest annual number of incidents since 1995, when 188 reports were received.
In 2017, 136 vessels were boarded, while there were 22 attempted attacks, 16 vessels fired upon and six vessels hijacked.
In 15 separate incidents, 91 crew members were taken hostage and 75 kidnapped from their vessels in 13 other incidents. Three crew members were killed in 2017 and six injured.
In 2016, 191 incidents were reported in total, with 150 vessels boarded and 151 crew members taken hostage.
In 2017, there were 36 reported incidents with no vessels hijacked in the Gulf of Guinea and 10 incidents of kidnapping involving 65 crew members in or around Nigerian waters. Globally 16 vessels reported being fired on – including seven in the Gulf of Guinea.
“Although the number of attacks is down this year in comparison with last year, the Gulf of Guinea and the waters around Nigeria remain a threat to seafarers. Nigerian authorities have intervened in a number of incidents helping to prevent escalation,” said IMB director, Pottengal Mukundan.
Nine incidents were recorded off Somalia in 2017, up from two in 2016.
In November, a container ship was attacked by armed pirates about 280 nautical miles east of Mogadishu. The pirates, unable to board due to the ship’s evasive manoeuvring, fired two RPG rockets, both of which missed, before retreating.
Six Somali pirates were subsequently detained by the European Union Naval Force, transferred to Seychelles and charged with “committing an act of piracy” where they face up to 30 years’ imprisonment, if convicted.
“This incident, alongside the 2017 figures, demonstrates Somali pirates retain the capability and intent to launch attacks against merchant vessels hundreds of miles from their coastline,” Mukundan said.
In the Philippines the number of reported incidents has more than doubled, from 10 in 2016 to 22 in 2017. According to the report, the majority of incidents were low-level attacks on anchored vessels, mainly at the ports of Manila and Batangas. Vessels underway off the Southern Philippines were boarded and crew kidnapped in the first quarter of 2017. Alerts broadcast by the IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC), on behalf of the Philippine authorities, helped to avoid further attacks.