Piracy knows no obstacles or restrictions. In the year that has just ended, dramatically affected by the spread of Covid and the inevitable drop in cargo and cruise traffic affecting the main trade routes, a total of 195 incidents related to the phenomenon occurred worldwide, 18 more than in 2019.
Three vessels were seized, 11 others caught fire, and 20 unsuccessful attacks were recorded. There were 161 successful boardings. This is the war bulletin transmitted by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) in its latest report.
The seas around Northwest Africa remain the most dangerous in the world for merchant ships: 95% of kidnappings recorded during 2020 came from the Gulf of Guinea area. A total of 135 sailors were kidnapped, 130 of them in 22 incidents. Overall, kidnappings accounted for 25% of the attacks that occurred in the area and increased by 7% compared to 2019 figures.
On average, attacks occurred 60 nautical miles off the coast but, in some cases, involved vessels that were much further away, demonstrating the increased organizational capacity of pirates in the Gulf area. For this reason, the IMB has recommended the utmost caution, asking ship captains to stay at least 250 miles away from the coastline.
The other area which has been hit the worst is the Singapore Strait, where, from the last quarter of 2019 onwards, the number of pirate attacks has been continually growing, with a total of 23 incidents. Successful boardings totaled 22.
Armed robberies increased slightly in Indonesia, with a total of 26 incidents reported in 2020 (compared to 25 in 2019). Merchant vessels continue to be boarded while at anchor or moored at Indonesian ports. In 2020, 2 seafarers were seized and 2 others were threatened. No incidents were recorded, however, in Somalia.
Translation by Giles Foster