IMB warns on ‘worrying trend’ of small tanker hijacks in Asia

The number of piracy attacks worldwide fell in the first half 2014 according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), however, it highlighted “a worrying trend of small tanker hijacks in Southeast Asia”.

IMB said its Piracy Reporting Centre in Kuala Lumpur received 116 reports of pirate attacks in the first half of 2014, down from 138 in the same period last year. In the first half of the year 10 vessels were hijacked, seven fired upon, 78 boarded by pirates, 200 crew taken hostage and two deaths.

The piracy watchdog said that at least six small tankers had been successfully hijacked in Southeast Asian waters since April sparking fears of a new trend in pirate attacks in the area, which had been largely limited to petty thefts.

“The recent increase in the number of successful hijackings is a cause for concern,” said IMB director, Pottengal Mukundan. “These serious attacks have so far targeted small coastal tankers. We advise these vessels to maintain strict anti-piracy measures in these waters, and to report all attacks and suspicious approaches by small craft.”

Piracy in West Africa off the Gulf of Guinea remained “particularly violent” Mukundan noted with 23 attacks reported including one where a crew member was killed and another injured during a shootout with armed pirates when they boarded a vessel off the coast of Nigeria at the end of April.

There were just 10 incidents reported of Somalia, previously the global blackspot for piracy. “While we welcome the continued decline in the number of Somali incidents the risk of piracy has not completely diminished. Ship masters are reminded to remain vigilant and apply the Best Management Practices guidelines,” Mukundan warned.

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