66 incidents in 2018, compared to 43 for the same period in 2017, and 37 in the first quarter of 2016.
In the modern world sea piracy remains a significant international problem and is still flourishing. The nature and consequences of pirate attacks continue to attract international attention. Maritime piracy undermines transport and trade links and also affects other economic activities like fishing and tourism.
Sea piracy has been known since ancient times (the most well-known were Phoenician pirates, who at the same time made a lot of geographical discoveries). In the Modern Times piracy covers many regions of the world.
International Maritime Bureau reports that the main zones of sea pirates activity are the Gulf of Guinea, Somalia, the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea and the regions of West Africa. Their actions are promoted by political instability in the countries, vicinity of the sea coast, existence of numerous convenient shelters on the shore and intensive navigation in these areas. Significant income received from ransom for ships, crews and cargo allows them to purchase high-speed boats, weapons, means of communications. As a direct result of this, their actions are more effective.
World Navy is not adapted to combat sea piracy because of their quantity, speed and they are extremely small-sized targets to find. Navy vessels are not equipped to fight against this kind of targets. In addition, fighting against maritime piracy is extremely difficult for legal reasons.
Due to the research of International Maritime Bureau the global levels of piracy and armed robbery at sea around West Africa are growing. There were recorded 66 incidents in the first quarter of 2018, compared to 43 for the same period in 2017, and 37 in the first quarter of 2016.
According to the latest data, 14 crew members were kidnapped and 100 crew members were taken hostage from their vessels within a period of the first three months of 2018. A total of 11 vessels were fired upon, 39 vessels boarded and 4 vessels hijacked.
More than 40 percent of the total incidents were registered in The Gulf of Guinea in the first quarter of 2018.
4 hijacked vessels were in the Gulf of Guinea, where no hijackings were reported in the previous year. In January and February two anchored product tankers were hijacked from Cotonou anchorage, for this reason the IMB PRC released a warning to ships. Two fishing vessels were hijacked 30nm off Nigeria and 27nm off Ghana in end of March.
“The hijacking of product tankers from anchorages in the Gulf
of Guinea is a cause of concern. In these cases, the intent of the perpetrators is to steal the oil cargo and kidnap crew. The prompt detection and response to any unauthorised movements of an anchored vessel could help in the effective response to such attacks,” commented an IMB spokesperson.
22 incidents were recorded by Nigeria. Among 11 vessels fired upon in the world, eight were the Nigeria coast off, including a 300,000 MT deadweight VLCC tanker more than 40nm off Brass.
“Attacks in the Gulf of Guinea are against all vessels. Crews have been taken hostage and kidnapped from fishing and refrigerated cargo vessels as well as product tankers. In some cases, the attacks have been avoided by the early detection of an approaching skiff, evasive action taken by the vessel and the effective use of citadels. The IMB is working with national and regional authorities in the Gulf of Guinea to support ships and coordinate counter piracy actions. The authorities from Benin, Nigeria and Togo have sent out boats in response to several incidents,” said an IMB spokesperson.
The thread of the attacks still remains in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Somalia. In 2017 it was reported on 4 hijacked vessels and 9 attacked vessels off Somalia. This data illustrates that the Somali pirates are still attacking merchant ships in the Indian Ocean. As a result, all ships in this area are advised to comply with the BMP4 (Best Management Practices for Protection against Somalia Based Piracy) recommendations.
According to the research the number of incidents during January – March period in 2018 fell from 22 to 19 cases. The highest number of accidents were registered in the regions of Africa. The vessels that are commonly attacked were bulk carriers, product tankers and tankers.
Information Fusion Centre recommends the seafarers to be vigilant and take the necessary measures while staying in the regions where sea robbery/theft is regularly reported. Shipowners and seafarers are advised to take note that the thread of the terrorism still remains due to ISIS (The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and the Al-Qaeda. Their goal is a termination of the worldwide trade and piracy is one of their tactics. Shipowners are recommended to implement self-detective measures and to remain vigilant as stated in the Regional Guide to Counter Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia, especially when passing narrow points and areas known because of the cases of sea robbery and piracy.