Global reported piracy incidents on the rise in 2018

There was an increase in the number of reported piracy incidents in 2018 compared with the previous year, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) 2018 piracy report

The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) recorded 201 incidents of maritime piracy and armed robbery in 2018, up from 180 in 2017.

Types of vessels attacked

  • 50 chemical/oil products tankers
  • 59 bulk carriers
  • 18 containers
  • 74 other

Gulf of Guinea:

There was a noted increase in the number of reported attacks against ships and crews around West Africa. Reports of attacks in waters between the Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo more than doubled year-on-year to 2018. These waters accounted for all six hijackings worldwide, 13 of the 18 ships fired upon, 130 of the 141 hostages taken globally, and 78 of 83 seafarers kidnapped for ransom. In the last three months of 2018, 41 kidnappings were recorded in waters off Nigeria alone.


Although no ships were hijacked, pirates fired upon a suezmax tanker in the Gulf of Aden, as well as a product tanker and a capesize bulk carrier more than three hundred miles from the Somali coastline.


Patrols by the Indonesia Marine Police helped the number of incidents to decline for the third successive year. The majority of the 36 Indonesian reports were low-level opportunistic thefts, although six crew were taken hostage and threatened.


Attacks off Sabah, eastern Malaysia, continued to be a cause of concern, with five crew from two fishing boats reported as kidnapped. Separately four attackers in a speedboat fired on a tug, and the master was shot in the leg.


Ten incidents were reported from the Philippine islands – down from 22 in 2017. Batangas anchorage accounted for five of these. In one attack, suspected militants fired upon a general cargo ship.

Total incidents per region

List of countries where vessels have been fired upon or hijacked in 2018

CountryAttemptedBoardedFired UponHijacked
Benin 0302
Gulf of Aden0010
Grand Total1357186


Total types of attacks

Fired upon131121618

IMB urged shipmasters and owners and other maritime interests to continue to report all actual, attempted and suspected piracy and armed robbery incidents to the IMB PRC. It said that “this first step in the response chain is vital to ensuring that adequate resources are allocated by authorities to tackle this crime. As an independent, non-commercial, and apolitical organization, IMB provides transparent statistics, which acts as a catalyst to achieve this goal”.