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.
It was reported simultaneously by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) in London and Kuala Lumpur on 8 July that the seas around West Africa remain the world’s most dangerous for piracy. IMB’s latest report reveals that of the 75 seafarers taken hostage onboard 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 2019, compared with 107 incidents for the same period of 2018. Overall, 57 vessels were boarded successfully, representing 73% of all attacks.
Pirates killed one person, took 38 crewmembers hostage, and kidnapped a further 37 for ransom.
Gulf of Guinea world piracy hotspot
The IMB report reveals 73% of all kidnappings at sea, and 92% of hostage‐takings, took place in the Gulf of Guinea. Armed pirates in these high‐risk waters kidnapped 27 crewmembers 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, eight were off the coast of Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer. These attacks took place on average 65 nautical miles off the coast – meaning they are classified as acts of piracy.
But there are some encouraging signs of improvement. IMB PRC reports: ‘a welcome and marked decrease’ in attacks in the Gulf of Guinea for the second quarter of 2019, commending the Nigerian Navy for actively responding to reported incidents by dispatching patrol boats. While recognizing that many attacks go unreported, IMB recorded 21 incidents around Nigeria so far in 2019, down from 31 in the same period of 2018.
Naval vessels from Equatorial Guinea and Spain also intervened in May 2019 when a Nigerian tug was hijacked 41 nautical miles off Luba, Equatorial Guinea. Soon after, the pirates used the tug to launch an attack on a Maltese heavy load carrier. The crew retreated into the ship’s citadel, a safe room for protection against attackers. When the navies responded, the pirates left the vessel and the crew were freed. The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre conveyed its thanks to the naval vessels for their prompt assistance.
Warning to stay alert
Despite the recent fall in Gulf of Guinea attacks, IMB is urging seafarers in the region to remain vigilant and report all suspicious activity to regional response centres and the IMB PRC.
In the words of an IMB spokesperson: ‘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.’
Meanwhile, in Malaysian waters, ten crew were kidnapped from two fishing boats off eastern Sabah in June. Of these, nine crew are reported to have been released.
Around Indonesia, ongoing information‐sharing cooperation between the Indonesian Marine Police and the IMB PRC continues to show positive results. The 11 incidents reported in Indonesian waters remains the lowest Q2 figure since 2009 when three incidents were reported.
Violent attacks in South America
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 have been reported in Callao, Peru, Jose Terminal in Venezuela and Macapa in Brazil. On 2 May, when armed robbers boarded a yacht in San Ignacio de Tupile, Panama, shooting and killing a family member and injuring another, the IMB PRC liaised with the victims and authorities. The surviving family members including two children were rescued by Panamanian Marine Police.
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.
The IMB’s report and further information
To request a report readers are invited to contact: https://www.icc‐ccs.org/piracy‐reporting‐centre/request‐piracy‐report
And to learn more about the International Maritime Bureau and the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre it is possible to follow @IMB_Piracy on Twitter for the latest updates related to global piracy statistics.
Finally, for further information contact can be made with IMB as here: Captain Pottengal Mukundan, Director, IMB Tel: +44 20 7423 6960; e-mail: pmukundan@icc‐ccs.org
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. ICC’s members include many of the world’s largest companies, SMEs, business associations and local chambers of commerce. (www.iccwbo.org )
It was reported on 19 September that ABB will install the Port of Incheon’s first shore-to-ship power facility, enabling passenger vessels to cut emissions, noise and vibrations at the berth
ABB has secured the contract covering the Republic of Korea’s commitment to sustainable shore-to-ship power, after a pilot scheme for passenger ships to plug into the local grid received approval from Incheon Port Authority (IPA). (Our attached illustration is reproduced by kind permission of the Port of Incheon ©)
Juha Koskela, Managing Director, ABB Marine & Ports commented: ‘As the first agreement covering shore-to-ship power in South Korea, this is a truly significant breakthrough for ABB. We are honoured to be selected by IPA to support their efforts in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from ships, as well as moving towards increasingly sustainable port operations.’
In addition to a new $160 million ferry terminal opened in April 2019, the Port of Incheon inaugurated South Korea’s largest cruise terminal in June this year. Given its metropolitan location and IPA’s ambitions to develop its ‘Golden Harbor’ vision for Incheon as a new tourism hub for the Northeast Asia, environmental credentials rank highly in port priorities, it is reported.
At the start of this year’s London International Shipping Week on 9 September Nusrat Ghani, Maritime Minister, on behalf of the UK Government, confirmed that it will enable construction of a new advanced ship for the General Lighthouse Authority, Trinity House, to replace the ageing THV Patricia (illustrated, © Trinity House), built in 1982 by Henry Robb of Leith.
The new vessel, yet to be named, will provide and service aids to navigation in some of the most dangerous waters, marking channels and hazards and taking advantage of the latest technology.
Of this provision Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani, said: ‘Our maritime sector is crucial to UK trade with 95% of our imports and exports transported by sea. With our waters becoming busier all the time, dealing with incidents quickly and efficiently is more important than ever. This new ship will support the General Lighthouse Authority to help future-proof their fleet and continue to support maritime safety and trade for generations to come.’