By Braxton Ilobah
The Nigerian Navy may have begun to win the anti-piracy war as activities of pirates in the Gulf of Guinea and Nigerian waters are now a record low.
It was learnt that piracy incidents in the first nine months of 2021 are the lowest reported in 17 years, with 51 crew members kidnapped, eight taken hostage and one killed.
The latest piracy report from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) released this week shows 85 vessels boarded, nine attempted attacks, two vessels shot at and one hijacked. The bureau, while welcoming the decrease, repeated its ongoing warning for seafarers to remain vigilant particularly in view of high level of violence against crew in many areas.
The Gulf of Guinea region recorded 28 incidents of piracy and armed robbery in the first nine month of 2021 compared to 46 for the same period in 2020.
“Notably, Nigeria reported only four, compared to 17 in 2020 and 41 in 2018. Crew kidnappings in the region dropped with a single crewmember kidnapped in quarter three 2021, compared to 31 in five separate incidents during the same quarter in the preceding year.
“All 2021 quarter three incidents were against vessels at port anchorages and the average successful kidnapping location was 100 nautical miles from land. The overall reduction of piracy and armed robbery incidents in the region bears testimony to enhanced maritime security and response co-ordination measures adopted by regional and national authorities,” according to an IMB statement.
The IMB statement makes no mention of piracy incidents, kidnappings, violence against crew or hijackings on the east coast of the continent off Somalia including the Horn of Africa. Going further east, the IMB noted that 20 armed robbery incidents in the Singapore Straits, the highest since last year and four up on the 2019 number. Attacks are low level and opportunistic in nature with IMB warning that perpetrators pose a direct threat to seafarers and vessels underway.
In four incidents, crew were threatened, assaulted or injured. There was also a “noticeable reduction” in incidents reported from Indonesian waters. The six reported in the first nine months of this year was the lowest in Indonesian water since 1993.