Marine Log

July 27, 2006

Piracy still a serious menace

Statistics for the first six months of 2006 show that the recent decline in piracy attacks worldwide has slowed. The figures appear in the Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships Report issued today by the International Chamber of Commerce's (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

The report shows that piracy continues to be a serious menace. In many reported incidents, pirates are armed with guns and knives and operate in large groups, attacking vessels from different directions simultaneously.

In its report for the second quarter of 2006, IMB discloses that so far this year:

  • 127 attacks have taken place on ships;
  • 74 ships have been boarded by pirates;
  • 11 ships have been hijacked;
  • 156 crew have been taken hostage;
  • 13 crew have been kidnapped and six crew have been killed.
  • Although the total number of attacks for the first half of 2006 remains the same compared to the same period for 2005, IMB is concerned that the situation has deteriorated in key hot spots.

    The eastern and north-eastern coasts of Somalia continue to be high-risk areas for hijackings.

    Eight attacks by pirates wielding guns and grenades have been reported off the eastern coast of Somalia so far this year.

    IMB warns that ships not making scheduled calls to ports in these areas should stay at least 200 miles or as far away as practical from the eastern coast of Somalia.

    The highest number of reported piracy incidents during the first six months of 2006 occurred in Indonesia, where violence and intimidation of crew continues to be a hallmark of attacks.

    The report indicates that Bangladesh--with 22 recorded attacks on ships--is an emerging piracy hot spot.

    IMB Director Captain Pottengal Mukundan said: "New high risk areas have emerged. It is vital that the governments in these areas give priority to this crime and resource law enforcement agencies to tackle it."

    On a positive note, the report shows a continued decrease in the number of attacks in the Malacca Straits--one of the most important shipping lanes in the world, carrying between one fifth and one quarter of the world's sea trade. Just three attacks in the first half of 2006 were recorded there, compared to eight attacks for the same period in 2005. However, since the end of June 2006, three further incidents within a two day period have been reported.

    No room for complacency

    Referring to the Malacca Straits and other areas where the number of reported incidents continues to decline, Captain Mukundan said: "We call upon law enforcement agencies to maintain the initiatives which have been successful. If the pressure lets up, we believe the attacks will rise again."

    The IMB report also identifies attacks on ports and anchorages. The Bangladesh port of Chittagong and Jakarta port Tg Priok were recorded as having the highest number of attacks with 22 and 8 reported attacks respectively.