Maritime News

Fewer ship hijacks but more crew taken hostage

2 November 2018

The latest figures released by the ICC International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) show that 156 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported in the first nine months of 2018, compared with 121 for the same period in 2017.

Although no vessel hijacks were reported in the six months to the end of September – the first such hijack-free period since 1994 – the number of crew members held hostage increased from 80 in the first nine months of 2017 to 112 for the same period this year.

In total for this period, 107 vessels were boarded, 32 suffered attempted attacks, 13 vessels were fired on and four vessels were hijacked.

The Gulf of Guinea was a major hotspot, accounting for over a third of the total incidents (57). Most of these incidents (41) were reported in and around Nigeria, and the IMB notes that the Nigerian Navy responded actively and dispatched patrol boats when incidents were reported promptly. 

The bulk of the crew kidnappings for ransom – 37 of the 39 incidents – also took place in the Gulf of Guinea region, in seven separate incidents. In one case, pirates seized 12 crew members of a Swiss-flagged bulk carrier on 22 September, 51 nautical miles off Bonny Island, Nigeria. The Filipino, Bosnian, Croatian, Romanian, Slovenian and Ukrainian crew were freed after negotiations between the shipowners and the kidnappers.

The IMB encourages all masters and crew members to report incidents of piracy and robbery to the 24-hour PRC. Recent incidents worldwide, reported since the last quarter’s figures were released, include a further kidnapping off West Africa, as well as other attacks in that region.

  • Pirates in a speedboat chased and fired on a tanker around 101nautical miles off Pointe Noire, Republic of Congo on 29 October. The tanker increased speed, made evasive manoeuvres and escaped.
  • Pirates boarded a container vessel around 71 nautical miles off Bonny Island, Nigeria on 27 October, kidnapped 11 crew members and escaped. The Nigerian Navy dispatched a patrol boat and escorted the vessel to safe anchorage.
  • Robbers approached a tanker berthed at Batangas, Philippines on 24 October and one managed to board. The duty crew raised the alarm and the robber escaped with ship’s property.
  • Three armed robbers were spotted on board a tanker anchored at Pointe Noire, Republic of Congo on 22 October. The alarm was raised and the crew mustered. The robbers escaped with ship’s property.
  • Two robbers armed with long knives were spotted attempting to board a landing craft anchored at Pointe Noire, Republic of Congo on 20 October. The alarm was raised and the crew alerted, and the robbers escaped with stolen mooring ropes.
  • Two robbers armed with a knife were spotted on board a bulk carrier anchored at Muara Berau, Samarinda, Indonesia on 17 October. The alarm was raised and the crew mustered. A search found that ship's stores had been stolen.


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


Related press

Press Area


Back to current news online stories