Gulf of Guinea world’s worst for pirate attacks - IMB

Jul 12 2019

The area round West Africa remain the world’s most dangerous for piracy, the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) latest report claimed.

Of the 75 seafarers taken hostage on board or kidnapped for ransom worldwide so far this year, 62 were captured in the Gulf of Guinea – off the coasts of Nigeria, Guinea, Togo, Benin and Cameroon.

Worldwide, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) recorded 78 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships in the first half of this year, compared with 107 incidents for the same period of 2018. Overall, 57 vessels were boarded successfully, representing 73% of all the attacks recorded.

Pirates killed one person, took 38 seafarers hostage, and kidnapped a further 37 for ransom, the IMB said.

Some 73% of all kidnappings at sea, and 92% of hostage-takings, took place in the Gulf of Guinea.In these waters, armed pirates kidnapped 27 crew members in the first half of 2019, and 25 in the same period in 2018.

Two chemical tankers were hijacked, as well as a tug that was then used in another attack. Of the nine vessels fired upon worldwide, all bar one occurred off the coast of Nigeria. These attacks took place on average 65 nautical miles off the coast – meaning they are classified as acts of piracy, the report said.

However, the IMB PRC reported “a welcome and marked decrease” in attacks in the Gulf of Guinea for the second quarter of 2019 and commended the Nigerian navy for actively responding to reported incidents by dispatching patrol boats.

Admitting that many attacks go unreported, IMB recorded 21 incidents around Nigeria thus far in 2019, down from 31 in the same period of 2018.

Despite the recent fall in Gulf of Guinea attacks, IMB urged seafarers in the region to remain vigilant and report all suspicious activity to regional response centres and the IMB PRC. “Early detection of an approaching suspicious craft is key to prevent boarding and give time to raise the alarm and retreat into a citadel, if needed,” said the IMB. 

Around Indonesia, ongoing information-sharing co-operation between the Indonesian Marine Police and the IMB PRC continued to show positive results. The 11 incidents reported in Indonesian waters was the lowest Q2 figure since 2009, when three incidents were reported.

A vessel was fired upon in the Guayas River after departing from Guayaquil, Ecuador’s second largest city. This is the first time an incident involving the firing of weapons has been reported to the IMB PRC in Ecuador.

Elsewhere in South America, incidents of violent armed theft against ships at anchor were reported in Callao in Peru, Jose Terminal in Venezuela and Macapa in Brazil.


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