Pirates board 37 ships, kidnap 22 seafarers in Q1

Pirates kidnap 20 Indians, spare Nigerian seafarer off Togo


Pirates boarded 37 ships and kidnapped 22 seafarers in the first quarter of 2020, the latest report from the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IBM) shows.

In total, IMB said it received reports of 47 attacks in the first three months of this year, with the Gulf of Guinea remaining the world’s piracy hotspot.

However, as many incidents remain unreported seafarers are advised to remain vigilant at all times.

In total, IMB’s 24-hour Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) recorded 21 attacks in the Gulf of Guinea in the first three months of this year.

Of these, 12 were on vessels underway at an average of 70 nautical miles off the coast.

Armed perpetrators are targeting all vessel types. They approach in speedboats, boarding ships in order to steal stores or cargo and abduct crewmembers to demand a ransom.

17 crew were kidnapped in three incidents in the Gulf of Guinea waters, at distances of between 45 and 75 nautical miles from the coast. 10 vessels were fired upon worldwide for the whole of 2019, with four already reported being fired at within Nigerian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the first quarter of 2020.

This includes a container ship underway around 130 nm southwest of Brass.  In another incident around 102 nm northwest of Sao Tome Island, another container ship was boarded by pirates. The crew retreated into the citadel and raised the alarm.

On receiving the alert, the IMB PRC liaised with Regional Authorities and the vessel operator until the vessel was safe and the crew had emerged from the citadel. 

Speaking on the report, IMB Director Michael Howlett, said, “Navy patrols, onboard security measures, cooperation and transparent information exchange between authorities, are all factors which help address the crimes of piracy and armed robbery. 

“The threat to crew is, however, still real – whether from violent gangs, or opportunistic armed thieves inadvertently coming face-to-face with the crew. Ships’ masters must continue to follow industry best practice diligently and maintain watches. Early detection of an approaching pirate skiff is often key to avoiding an attack.”

The piracy report shows zero hijackings in the last two quarters and no incidents around Somalia. 

In Indonesia, five anchored vessels were reported boarded, and five ships were boarded while underway in the Singapore Straits.

These were predominantly low-level armed robbery attacks.