IMB: Piracy Crackdown in Southeast Asia Bears Fruit

A piracy crackdown in Southeast Asia appears to be having a positive impact on the number of piracy attacks in the region with only two hijackings reported in the third quarter of the year, according to the latest piracy report issued by International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC).

Indonesian and Malaysian authorities have also arrested and in some cases prosecuted, members of product tanker hijacking gangs, notably those behind the MT Sun Birdie and MT Orkim Harmony attacks.

“The robust actions taken particularly by the Indonesian and Malaysian authorities – including the arrest of one the alleged masterminds – is precisely the type of deterrent required,” commented P. Mukundan, IMB Director.

The two hijackings, on a small product tanker in the Straits of Malacca and a fishing vessel 40-miles west of Pulau Langkawi, were among 47 incidents the IMB PRC recorded globally between July and September.

To date 190 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships have been officially counted this year, the greatest number in Indonesia, which tallied 86 mainly low-level incidents, followed by Vietnam with 19 low-level reports, IMB said.

While only one new incident of an actual attack was reported for the last quarter in the Gulf of Guinea, the real number could be considerably higher, according to IMB.

No incidents have been noted off Somalia or in the Gulf of Aden this year, previously a piracy hotspot. IMB says the positive development reflects the combined efforts of navies in the region, along with greater compliance with the Best Management Practices guidelines against Somali piracy, the employment of private security contractors and a stabilizing government. Suspected Somali pirates continue to hold 29 crew members for ransom.

However, as World Maritime News reported, armed pirates attacked and boarded a refrigerated cargo ship underway off the Niger Delta and kidnapped four crew members on October 19. There are currently no details relating to the identity of the attacked vessel or the location of the kidnapped crewmembers.

This incident marks a return to attacks for West Africa, an area that has experienced low levels of maritime crime in the last three months, maritime security agency Dryad Maritime believes.

The report urges vessels to maintain vigilance, noting the “increasingly fragile” situation ashore Somalia, with the threat of piracy not “eliminated”.

In all, this year has seen 154 vessels boarded, 21 attempted attacks and 15 vessels hijacked. A total of 226 crew were taken hostage, 14 assaulted, 13 injured, 10 kidnapped and one killed, the IMB report finds.

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Image: Royal Malaysian Navy; Infographic: ICC

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