Anti-piracy body ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reported that piracy and armed robbery incidents in the Singapore Straits have increased during the first half of the year.
In the period January-June 2023, 65 incidents were recorded, an increase from 58 incidents for the same period last year.
According to the mid-year report of IMB, of the 65 incidents, 57 vessels were boarded, four had attempted attacks, two were hijacked and two were fired upon. An important element of the report is that perpetrators successfully boarded 90% of targeted ships, while violence towards crew continues with 36 taken hostage, 14 kidnapped, three threatened, two injured and one assaulted.
IMB Director Michael Howlett commented, "The resurgence in reported incidents including hostage situations and crew kidnappings in the Gulf of Guinea waters is concerning. The IMB calls for continued, robust regional and international naval presence as a deterrent to address these crimes."
IMB noted that the Gulf of Guinea witnessed a surge in maritime incidents between the first and the second quarter of 2023, with five incidents in the first quarter and nine in the second one. Out of these, 12 were classified as armed robberies and two as piracy, predominantly targeting anchored vessels in the region.
Additionally, 14 crew members were kidnapped, of which eight were taken from vessels anchored within territorial waters. Furthermore, in two separate hijackings, 31 crew members were held hostage, communication and navigation equipment were destroyed, and partial cargoes were stolen, while one of these incidents also involved the abduction of six crew members.
“We once again call on Gulf of Guinea regional authorities and the international community to refocus their attention on the region, to establish long-term, sustainable solutions that effectively address these crimes and protect the seafaring and fishing communities,” stressed Howlett.
IMB added that while considered low-level opportunistic crimes, often large vessels transiting through the Singapore Straits remain targeted and boarded, with a significant 25% increase in reported incidents compared to the same period last year in these congested waters.
The IMB expresses concern and has requested that littoral states allocate the required resources to address these crimes as crew members continue to be at risk with weapons reported in at least eight incidents.
On the other hand, the Indonesian archipelagic region has shown a sustained decrease in reported incidents compared to years preceding 2020, with seven incidents reported, primarily involving anchored or berthed vessels.
IMB pointed out that crew members remain at risk, with instances of threats and knives reported.
Last, but not least, in South and Central American ports, which accounted for 14% of global incidents, there were 13 reported incidents, including attempted boardings, hostage situations, and crew assaults and threats at Callao Anchorage in Peru, Colombia, Macapa Anchorage in Brazil, and Panama.