The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has raised fresh concern over the rise in reported incidents of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and the Singapore Straits in its latest report covering January – September 2023.
A total of 99 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported in the first nine months of 2023, an increase from 90 incidents for the same period in 2022.
This year, 85 vessels were boarded, nine had attempted attacks, three were hijacked and two were fired upon. Perpetrators successfully boarded 89 percent of targeted vessels with most incidents occurring at night.
Even though reported violence towards crew members is among the lowest in three decades, the risk to the crew remains real with 69 taken hostage, 14 kidnapped, eight threatened, and three injured while one assaulted.
“The Gulf of Guinea stands as a region of concern with a rise in reported incidents, as opposed to the downward trend we have seen in the past two years. The IMB sees regional ownership as critical to safeguard shipping and trade and to address these crimes,” Michael Howlett, director of IMB said.
Reported incidents increased in the Gulf of Guinea in the first nine months of 2023, from 21 to 14 for the same period in 2022.
Seventeen incidents were classified as armed robberies and four as piracy with mounting concern for the crew as 54 were taken hostage, 14 kidnapped and two were injured.
Meanwhile, the Singapore Straits continues to raise concerns with 33 reported incidents in the first nine months of 2023 compared to 31 in the same period last year.
Overall, 31 vessels were boarded with five crew taken hostage and two threatened with 25 percent of incidents reported in July. In most cases, ship stores or properties were reported stolen.
Considering the navigational challenges of the Singapore Straits, IMB said even low-level opportunistic incidents could potentially increase the risk of safe navigation in these congested waters.
The IMB recorded an increase in the number of incidents in the Indonesian archipelagic region, with 12 incidents reported compared to 10 for the same period in 2020 and seven in 2021. Knives were sighted in five out of the 12 reported incidents.