The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has expressed concern over the rise in reported incidents of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and the Singapore Straits. According to the IMB’s latest report covering January to September 2023, there were 99 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships during this period, compared to 90 incidents in the same period in 2022. Of these incidents, 85 vessels were boarded, nine had attempted attacks, three were hijacked, and two were fired upon. The majority of incidents occurred at night, and while violence towards crew members is relatively low, the risk to the crew remains real.
The Gulf of Guinea saw an increase in reported incidents, with 21 incidents in the first nine months of 2023 compared to 14 in the same period in 2022. Of these incidents, 17 were classified as armed robberies and four as piracy. A total of 54 crew members were taken hostage, 14 were kidnapped, and two were injured. The Singapore Straits also raised concerns, with 33 reported incidents in the first nine months of 2023 compared to 31 in the same period last year. In most cases, ship stores or properties were stolen.
The IMB also recorded an increase in incidents in the Indonesian archipelagic region, with 12 incidents reported compared to 10 in the same period in 2020 and seven in 2021. Knives were sighted in five out of the 12 reported incidents. The IMB emphasizes the need for regional ownership to address these crimes and safeguard shipping and trade in these areas. The navigational challenges of the Singapore Straits pose a risk to safe navigation, even with low-level opportunistic incidents.