Piracy and armed robbery at 27-year low in H1 2021: IMB

IMB’s latest global piracy report has recorded  68 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships for H1 2021, down from 98 incidents during the same period last year and the lowest total since 1994.

In the first six months of 2021, IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) reported 61 vessels boarded, four attempted attacks, two vessels fired upon and one vessel hijacked.

Violence against crews has continued, with 50 crew kidnapped, three each threatened and taken hostage, two assaulted, one injured and one killed.

The type of vessel attacked was remarkably evenly spread – indicating perhaps that, in the Gulf of Guinea at least, it is the crew who are the target rather than the cargo.

There were 17 tankers attacked, 20 bulk carriers, 17 container ships and 14 “others”.

There was also an even split between the status of the ship when attacked – 34 being anchored or berthed, and 34 steaming.

IMB PRC cautioned against complacency. Vessels were boarded in 91% of the reported incidents.”

The Gulf of Guinea continued to be particularly dangerous for seafarers, with 32% of all reported incidents taking place in the region. The region accounted for all 50 kidnapped crew. It was in GoG that the single crew fatality recorded by IMB occurred in H1 2021.

The number of kidnappings recorded in the Gulf of Guinea in Q2 was the lowest since Q2 2019. Pirates continue to target all vessel types throughout the region. IMB warned that fishing vessels have been hijacked in the Gulf of Guinea and later used as mother ships to target other merchant vessels.

IMB Director Michael Howlett said that “whilst IMB welcomes reduced piracy and armed robbery activity in the Gulf of Guinea, the risk to seafarers still remains”.

In early June a bulk carrier was approached by a skiff with six pirates while transitioning through the region at around 210nm off the coast of Lagos.

The Singapore Straits recorded 16 incidents in the first six months of 2021, up from 11 during the same period in 2020. These attacks tend to be opportunistic in nature, with robbery the sole aim. but IMB warns that in seven incidents the perpetrators were armed with knives. In three separate incidents, seafarers were reported to have been either threatened, assaulted or injured.

Incidents rose off the coast of Peru. In comparison to the first half of 2019 and 2020, Callao Anchorage, Peru experienced a doubling in the number of incidents, with nine incidents reported in total for 2021. There were four incidents in Q2 2021; knives were reported in three of these. There were two separate incidents of crew being taken hostage and assaulted during H1.

Vessels were advised to take precautionary measures while anchored in Manila Bay, Philippines, as four incidents were reported to IMB for Q2 2021.https://www.icc-ccs.org/index.php/1309-Piracy-and-armed-robbery-incidents-at-lowest-level-in-27-years-but-risks-remain-to-seafarers-IMB-cautions