IMB: Piracy at Lowest Level in Two Decades
The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre released good news on Monday: attacks in the first half of 2016 are at the lowest level since 1995, even taking the recent spate of kidnappings in the Gulf of Guinea and the Sulu Sea into account.
The center's data shows 98 attacks through the end of June, down from 134 in the same period last year. Annualized, these numbers are well below the values recorded in 2003 and 2010, the most recent peak years.
The attacks in the first half included 72 boardings, five hijackings and 12 attempts, with nine ships fired on and 64 crewmembers taken hostage.
Pottengal Mukundan, the center's director, said that the news was encouraging but ships need to remain vigilant in high-risk areas like the Gulf of Guinea and waters near Somalia.
(Reinforcing his point, the IMB posted notice of an attack on a cable laying vessel conducting operations in the Red Sea. Sixteen pirates approached in a skiff and opened fire on the slow-moving ship. An embarked armed security team returned fire, driving off the would-be attackers.)
The center noted encouraging improvements in Indonesia, where new, more secure designated anchorages have helped to cut down on petty crime – reducing it by half from the same period last year – and the Navy has shown diligence in combating more serious acts of piracy. IMB said that the swift resolution to the hijacking of the product tanker Hai Soon 12 in May was a great example of robust enforcement, and sent a strong message to other criminals.
The mid-year report also has some bad news. Kidnappings are on the rise, especially off Nigeria. "In the Gulf of Guinea, rather than oil tankers being hijacked for their cargo, there is an increasing number of incidents of crew being kidnapped for ransom," said Captain Mukundan.