Worldwide Piracy Hits 20-Year Low
Piracy across the world dropped in 2017 as officials reported a total of 180 attacks against ships to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).
This is the lowest annual number of incidents since 1995, when 188 incidents were reported. In 2017, pirates boarded 136 vessels, and there were 22 attempted attacks, 16 vessels fired upon and six hijacked.
In 15 incidents, pirates took 91 crew members hostage aboard their ships, and 75 were kidnapped and removed from their vessels in 13 other incidents. Three crew members were killed in 2017, and six were injured.
“Although the number of attacks is down this year in comparison with last year, the Gulf of Guinea and the waters around Nigeria remain a threat to seafarers,” said IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan. “Nigerian authorities have intervened in a number of incidents, helping to prevent escalation.”
In 2017, there were 36 reported incidents with no vessels hijacked in the Gulf of Guinea and 10 incidents of kidnapping involving 65 crew members in or around Nigerian waters. Globally, 16 vessels reported being fired on — including seven in the Gulf of Guinea. Nine incidents were recorded off the coast of Somalia in 2017, up from two in 2016.
In November, armed pirates attacked a container ship about 280 nautical miles east of Mogadishu, Somalia. The pirates, unable to board due to the ship’s evasive maneuvering, fired two rocket-propelled grenades, both of which missed, before retreating. Six Somali pirates were subsequently detained by the European Union Naval Force, transferred to the Seychelles and charged with committing an act of piracy. They face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
“This incident, alongside the 2017 figures, demonstrates Somali pirates retain the capability and intent to launch attacks against merchant vessels hundreds of miles from their coastline,” Mukundan said.