Somali pirate activity increases again Featured

The International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB) received reports of 33 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships in the first quarter 2024, up from 27 in the same period last year.

The global figures included 35 crew taken hostage, nine kidnapped and one threatened across 24 vessel boardings, six attempts, two hijackings and one vessel being fired upon.

“The reported hijacking incidents and the vessel fired upon are attributed to Somali pirates who have targeted vessels at great distances from the Somali coast evidencing their continued capabilities and capacities,” IMB said in its report.

A hijacking in December 2023 was the first by alleged Somali pirates since 2017, said IMB. Two hijackings were reported off Somalia in the first quarter 2024. The lull in Somalia piracy activity in recent years led to a trim of the High Risk Area in the region. While two hijackings in three months does not mark a full return of the extreme threat seen in 2005 to 2012, security companies have said they are monitoring the situation for signs of escalation.

The bureau noted several hijackings of dhows and fishing vessels which Somali pirates are known to use as motherships in their activities, extending their threat range from shore.

A bulker was boarded in January 450 nm off Somalia’s coast, and in March another bulker was boarded 550 nm from the shore by 20 Somali pirates. Incident reports recall motherships launching skiffs carrying pirates armed with machines guns to target merchant ships

“Generally, Somali pirates tend to be well armed with automatic weapons and RPGs. They sometimes use skiffs launched from mother vessels, which may be hijacked fishing vessels or dhows. Masters and ship owners are encouraged to register their vessel and report as per the latest BMP procedures, ensure their vessel is hardened prior to entering these waters and to maintain a 24-hour visual and radar watch,” said IMB.

The report’s figures do not include attacks on shipping in the Red Sea from Houthi forces as they are not piracy related, but the report warned vessels transiting the region to be aware of heightened security risks and ignore calls from Yemeni naval forces to divert to Yemini waters.

The report highlighted a concerning rise in incidents in Bangladeshi waters; one incident was reported for the whole of 2023 and seven incidents have been reported in Q1 2024, including six from vessels at anchorage in Chattogram.

Source: seatrade-maritime