IMB calls for sustained vigilance amid drop in piracy incidents

Ruen Arabian Sea piracy
Indian Navy boats and a helicopter surround the bulk carrier Ruen after it had been taken over by pirates in the Arabian Sea, March 15, 2024.Indian Navy

The International Chamber of Commerce's (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB) is calling for sustained vigilance to protect seafarers amid increasing violence despite an overall drop in the number of incidents reported in IMB’s mid-year report for 2024, released on Thursday, July 11. Sixty incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were recorded in the first half of 2024, a decrease from 65 incidents for the same period in 2023.

"While we are reassured to see a fall in the number of overall reported acts of piracy," said ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton, "the concerning rise in incidents of a violent nature underscores the need for continued vigilance from the international community to ensure the safety of all seafarers — especially at this time of heightened uncertainty for maritime transport."

Of the 60 incidents reported, 46 vessels were boarded, eight reported attempted attacks, four were hijacked, and two were fired upon. Perpetrators successfully boarded 84 per cent of targeted vessels.

Violence towards crew continues, with 85 taken hostage compared to 36 in the same period last year, 11 kidnapped, and two threatened. Guns and knives were reported in 34 of the 60 incidents, a worrying increase from the same period last year.

"While the decline in reported incidents is welcome," added IMB Director Michael Howlett, "sustained and continued regional maritime cooperation remains essential to safeguard seafarers, global shipping and trade. There is no room for complacency."

Caution urged around Somali waters

Despite the decline in global reported incidents Somali piracy still poses a threat, with eight reported incidents in the first half of 2024, including three hijackings. Recent incidents demonstrate the continued capability and capacity of Somali pirates to target vessels up to 1,000 nautical miles off the Somali coast.

“We continue to urge caution around Somali piracy incidents and call on all vessel owners and masters to harden their vessels and follow all recommended guidelines in the latest Best Management Practices while transiting Somali waters,” Mr Howlett said.

Concern for crew in Gulf of Guinea

Incidents have dropped from 14 to 10 in the Gulf of Guinea but threats to crew safety and well-being continue to be a cause of concern. The region accounts for the 11 crew kidnapped globally in the first half of 2024 in two separate incidents and 21 of the crew taken hostage in one incident. IMB reiterates the need for a continued and robust regional and international naval presence to respond to these incidents and safeguard life at sea.

Low reporting in Singapore Straits

There is a noticeable decrease of reported incidents in the Singapore Straits from 13 in the first half of 2024 compared to 20 the same period last year. However, the targeting and boarding of large vessels transiting through these waters remains worrying.

While considered low level opportunistic crimes, 10 crew were taken hostage in six separate incidents with guns and knives reported in 10 incidents. Despite the decline of reported incidents, IMB is aware of incidents not being reported.

Rising incidents in the Indonesian archipelagic region and Bangladesh

IMB has recorded 12 incidents in the Indonesian archipelago, the highest since the first half of 2020 when 15 incidents were reported. Two crew were reported as taken hostage and one threatened during these incidents.

Knives were reported in six incidents and guns in one incident. This year, six incidents occurred at Dumai anchorage compared to one in the first half of 2023.

Low-level incidents have increased in Bangladesh, up from one in the first six months of 2023 to ten in 2024. This is the highest reported number of incidents in the first half of a year since 2015. All vessels were at anchorage with nine incidents reported at Chattogram.

A copy of the 2024-January to June- Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships report can be requested via this link.

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