Maritime News

Piracy falls but more crew kidnaps in 201

13 January 2017

The latest annual report from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reveals that more crew were kidnapped at sea in 2016 than in any of the previous 10 years, even though global piracy had fallen to its lowest levels since 1998.

The IMB’s 2016 piracy report recorded 191 incidents of piracy and armed robbery on the world's seas. However, the rise in crew kidnapping was “a worrying trend”.

In 2016, 150 vessels were boarded by pirates or armed robbers, 12 vessels were fired on, seven were hijacked, and 22 attacks were thwarted. The number of hostages fell to 151.

However, the number of seafarers kidnapped had risen three times since 2015, with 62 people captured for ransom in 15 separate incidents in 2016. Just over half were captured off West Africa, which has been a hotspot for several years, and the IMB notes that 28 seafarers were kidnapped around Malaysia and Indonesia; incidents in the Sulu Sea between East Malaysia and the Philippines were a concern, and the IMB advises owners to consider avoiding this area.

The IMB urged governments to investigate and identify the kidnappers and punish them under law.

This year has already seen a further example of an armed attack on a cargo ship in Philippine waters. Six pirates armed with automatic rifles and in two speedboats chased and fired on the Philippines-flagged Ocean Kingdom on 3 January. In this case, an alarm raised by the captain led to the Philippines coastguard, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the Philippine Navy sending patrol boats to the scene. They thwarted the attack following a reported exchange of fire. All crew were reported safe, but the ship was damaged by gunshot.

Other recent incidents of piracy and robbery reported to the IMB’s worldwide Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) include the following.

  • Five robbers boarded a bulk carrier anchored at Muara Berau, Samarinda, Indonesia on 8 January. They took a duty crew member hostage and tied him up. Another duty crew member noticed the robbers and the alarm was raised. The robbers escaped with stolen ship’s stores.
  • Robbers boarded a tanker anchored at Batangas, Philippines on 7 January. They were spotted and the alarm was raised; the robbers escaped with ship’s property.

All attacks and suspicious sightings should be reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre, tel: +603 2031 0014 (24 hours), email:

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