Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
On 15 October it was announced jointly from London and Kuala Lumpur that the International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) had issued its report for the third quarter of 2019. This document demonstrates that fewer incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported than in
the first nine months of 2018.
A total of 119 incidents of Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships have been reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) in 2019, compared to 156 incidents for the same period in 2018. Overall, the 2019 incidents include 95 vessels boarded, 10 vessels fired upon, 10 attempted attacks, and four vessels hijacked. The number of crew taken hostage through the first nine months has declined from 112 in 2018 to 49 in 2019.
While the overall number of incidents has dropped, incidents involving guns and knives remain consistent. There have been 24 knife-related and 35 gun-related incidents reported in 2019, compared to 25 and 37 for the first nine months of 2018. These statistics confirm IMB’s concerns over continued threats to the safety and security of seafarers.
Gulf of Guinea
The Gulf of Guinea remains a high risk area for piracy and armed robbery. The region accounts for 86% of crew taken hostage and nearly 82% of crew kidnappings globally.
In July a general cargo vessel was hijacked approximately 120nm SW of Brass. Ten crew members were kidnapped from the vessel and released four weeks later. In August a bulk carrier and a general cargo vessel were boarded within hours of each other at Douala anchorage, Cameroon, and a total of seventeen crew were kidnapped from the vessels. Within six weeks all kidnapped crew were released. This incident demonstrates the range of piracy activity in the Gulf of Guinea and that all types of ships are vulnerable to attack. Lagos recorded 11 incidents in 2019, the highest number for any port.
In the words of said Pottengal Mukundan, Director, ICC IMB: ‘Although incidents are down, the Gulf of Guinea continues to be a concern for piracy and armed robbery-related activities with kidnappings of crew members increasing in both scale and frequency. It is important that shipmasters and owners continue to report all actual, attempted, and suspected incidents to ensure that an accurate picture of these attacks emerge and action is taken against these criminals before the incidents further escalate.’
Continued improvement in Indonesia
Meanwhile, Indonesia reported a decline in overall piracy related incidents with 20 actual and attempted attacks for the first nine months of 2019. Over the past five years, Indonesia has gradually reduced its share of piracy related incidents. As recent as 2015, Indonesia reported 86 actual and attempted piracy incidents through Q3. Indonesia’s impressive gains can be attributed to continued information sharing between the Indonesian Marine Police and the IMB PRC.
No incidents in Somalia, but threats remain
Meanwhile, Somalia has no piracy-related incidents recorded for the first nine months of 2019. Although no incidents have been reported, Somali pirates continue to possess the capacity to carry out attacks in the Somali basin and wider Indian Ocean. As a result, the IMB PRC advises ship owners to remain cautious when transitting these waters.
Global anti‐piracy support
Since 1991 the IMB PRC’s 24-hour manned centre, has provided the maritime industry, governments and response agencies with timely and transparent data on piracy and armed robbery incidents – received directly from the Master of the vessel or its owners.
The IMB PRC’s prompt forwarding of reports and liaison with response agencies, its broadcasts to shipping via Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) Safety Net Services and e-mail alerts to Company Security Officers, all provided free of cost, has helped the response against piracy and armed robbery and the security of seafarers, globally.
IMB strongly urges all shipmasters and owners to report all actual, attempted and suspected piracy and armed robbery incidents to the IMB PRC globally. This first step in the response chain is vital to ensuring that adequate resources are allocated by authorities to tackle piracy. Transparent statistics from an independent, non- political, international organization can act as a catalyst to achieve this goal.
About the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is the world’s largest business organization with a network of over 6.5 million members in more than 130 countries. It works to promote international trade, responsible business conduct and a global approach to regulation through a unique mix of advocacy and standard setting activities—together with market-leading dispute resolution services. The International Chamber’s members include many of the world’s largest companies, SMEs, business associations and local chambers of commerce. See also: www.iccwbo.org
For further information readers are invited to contact:
Director, IMB, Tel: +44 20 7423 6960
Our picture shows a Carnival line up. Five Carnival ships are due in Durban in week commencing 24 May. (Photo: www.africaports.co.za )
No less than five Carnival Cruise ships are due to arrive in Durban between 26 and 28 May to take on bunkers and to restock depleted supplies.
These five ships are part of a group of 12 engaged in the humanitarian task of repatriating over 26,000 crew from the Carnival fleet and other companies, as well as personnel from entertainment centres ashore, who because of the coronavirus pandemic, have had their employment suddenly curtailed.
Hotel staff and entertainers
These are the entertainment staff, the onboard shop workers, beauty salon practitioners, waiters and bus boys, chefs and kitchen staff, cabin cleaners, pursers and front desk people all making up the staff working on board cruise ships.
With cruising curtailed these former employees are finally returning home to destinations like India, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines after having remained on board their ships for more than two months, unable to go ashore or receive visitors ever since cruising operations were suspended in mid -March. Ahead they face another three or four weeks at sea before being allowed to disembark. However, there’s something of a problem.
Call to governments
IFSMA* calls upon Governments to adopt the ‘Framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the COVID-19 pandemic’ without delay to allow ship owners and management companies to change over their dangerously tired crews.
Governments must act now in order to avoid personal injury to, and mental breakdown of, seafarers and avoid the significant risk of accidents and consequential danger to life and the environment.
Concern at IFSMA
IFSMA is receiving an increasing number of reports from its ship masters’ associations around the world concerned for the welfare and safety of crews and the increased risk with which they are operating in an already high risk environment. Seafarers are feeling let down and abandoned by their Governments.
Following concerns from the maritime industry, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) issued a circular to all Member States, the UN and agencies and IGOs and NGOs in consultative status with IMO. This document concerned recommendations to Member States about measures to facilitate ship crew changes in seaports during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IMO Secretary General has received a framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the pandemic, proposed by a cross-section of global industry associations in consultative status with the IMO, for example: ICS, IAPH, BIMCO, IFSMA, and P&I Clubs as well as the International Air Transport Association (IATA).