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Somali piracy resurgence poses increasing threat to maritime security, IMB says

Mike Schuler
Thursday April 11, 2024

The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reports a worrisome increase in maritime piracy off the coast of Somalia in the first quarter of 2024.

The first three months of 2024 saw a rise in incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships globally, with 33 incidents recorded, compared to 27 during the same period in 2023.

Among the reported incidents, pirates boarded 24 vessels, attempted attacks on six, hijacked two, and fired upon one. Violence towards crew members is also escalating, with 35 taken hostage, nine kidnapped, and one threatened.

The report highlights a worrying trend of Somali pirate activity with two reported hijackings and pirates demonstrated an increased ability to target vessels at greater distances from the Somali coast.

One notable incident involved a Bangladesh-flagged bulk carrier M/V Abdullah, hijacked on March 12 with its 23 crew members taken hostage by over 20 Somali pirates. The vessel was approximately 550 nautical miles from Mogadishu at the time of the incident.

IMB has expressed concern over several reported hijacked dhows and fishing vessels, which pirates use as mother ships to launch attacks far from the Somali coastline.

“The resurgence of Somali pirate activity is worrying, and it is crucial to protect trade, safeguard routes, and the safety of seafarers who keep commerce moving,” said ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton.

The IMB commended authorities for their actions in responding. One notable operation by the Indian Navy in March resulted in the capture of 35 Somali pirates and the release of a previously hijacked vessel and its 17 crew.

IMB Director Michael Howlett urged vessel owners and Masters to adhere to recommended guidelines in the latest version of the Best Management Practices (BMP 5). He also praised the Indian navy and Seychelles coast guard for intercepting hijacked vessels, safeguarding crews, and capturing pirates.

Meanwhile, incidents in Gulf of Guinea waters continue at a reduced level, with six reported in Q1 2024 compared to five in the same period of 2023. However, caution is still urged due to the continued threat of piracy and armed robbery, as evidenced by the kidnapping of nine crew members from a tanker in January 2024.

There has been a rise in low-level opportunistic crimes in Bangladeshi waters and the Singapore Straits in 2024, posing a threat to crew safety with incidents of hostage-taking reported.


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