THE ICC International Maritime Bureau has warned of a resurgence of piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea and the Singapore Straits.

In its latest mid-year report, IMB recorded 65 incidents of piracy and armed robbery (in total) against ships in the first half of 2023, up from 58 incidents in the first half of 2022.

Of the 65 incidents reported, 57 vessels were boarded, four had attempted attacks, two were hijacked and two were fired on. Perpetrators successfully boarded 90% of targeted vessels.

The bureau also highlighted ongoing violence towards crew; 36 people were taken hostage, 14 were kidnapped, three were threatened, two were injured and one assaulted.

Concerns for crew in Gulf of Guinea

The Gulf of Guinea experienced a concerning surge in maritime incidents between the first and second quarters of of 2023, with five incidents in the first quarter and nine in the second quarter.

Twelve of those incidents were classified as armed robberies and two as piracy, predominantly targeting anchored vessels in the region.

IMB director Michael Howlett said the resurgence in reported incidents including hostage situations and crew kidnappings in the Gulf of Guinea waters is concerning.

“The IMB calls for continued, robust regional and international naval presence as a deterrent to address these crimes,” he said.

Fourteen crew were kidnapped in the Gulf of Guinea. Eight of those crew members were taken from vessels anchored within territorial waters.

And, in two separate hijackings, 31 crew members were held hostage, communication and navigation equipment were destroyed, and partial cargoes were stolen. One of the incidents also involved the abduction of six crew members.

“We once again call on Gulf of Guinea regional authorities and the international community to refocus their attention on the region, to establish long-term, sustainable solutions that effectively address these crimes and protect the seafaring and fishing communities,” Mr Howlett said.

Other regions

In the Singapore Straits, IMB recorded a 25% increase in reported incidents compared to the first half of 2022.

It considered the incidents as low-level opportunistic crimes, but noted that large vessels transiting the “congested waters” of the straits are still being targeted and boarded.

The IMB still has concerns for the region and has requested that littoral states allocate resources to address the crimes.

It noted crew members continue to be at risk, with weapons reported in at least eight of the piracy incidents.

In the Indonesian archipelagic region, the bureau saw a sustained decrease in reported incidents compared to years preceding 2020, with seven incidents reported, primarily involving anchored or berthed vessels.

It said crew members remain at risk in the Indonesian archipelagic region, with threats and knives reported in some instances.

And in South and Central American ports, which accounted for 14% of global incidents, there were 13 reported incidents, including attempted boardings, hostage situations, and crew assaults and threats at Callao Anchorage in Peru, Colombia, Macapa Anchorage in Brazil, and Panama.