The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has raised concern on the resurgence of reported incidents in the Gulf of Guinea waters and the increase in incidents in the Singapore Straits in its mid-year report for 2023. The report was released on 11 July.
65 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were recorded in the first half of 2023, an increase from 58 incidents for the same period in 2022.
Of the 65 incidents reported, 57 vessels were boarded, four had attempted attacks, two were hijacked and two were fired upon. Perpetrators successfully boarded ninety per cent of targeted vessels. Violence towards crew continues with 36 taken hostage, fourteen kidnapped, three threatened, two injured and one assaulted.
IMB director Michael Howlett: ‘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.’
Also read: IMB: Decline in piracy incidents persists
Mounting concerns for crew in the Gulf of Guinea
The Gulf of Guinea witnessed a concerning surge in maritime incidents between Q1 and Q2 of 2023, with five incidents in the first quarter and nine in the second. Out of these, twelve were classified as armed robberies and two as piracy, predominantly targeting anchored vessels in the region.
Fourteen crew were kidnapped, of which eight crew members were taken from vessels anchored within territorial waters. Additionally, in two separate hijackings, 31 crew members were held hostage, communication and navigation equipment were destroyed, and partial cargoes were stolen. One of these incidents also involved the abduction of six crew members.
The IMB warns of the rise of incidents and violence on crew, highlighting the urgent need for measures to address the safety and security of innocent seafarers. ‘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,’ says Howlett.
Also read: Piracy in 2022 at lowest level in decades
Rising risks in Singapore Straits, fewer incidents in Indonesia
While considered low level opportunistic crimes, often large vessels transiting through the Singapore Straits remain targeted and boarded, with a significant 25 per cent 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.
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. Crew members remain at risk, with instances of threats and knives reported.
South and Central America account for fourteen per cent of global incidents
In South and Central American ports, which accounted for fourteen per cent of global incidents, there were thirteen reported incidents, including attempted boardings, hostage situations, and crew assaults and threats at Callao Anchorage in Peru, Colombia, Macapa Anchorage in Brazil, and Panama.