Piracy at sea hit an all-time high in the first three months of 2011, with 142 attacks worldwide, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) global piracy report revealed today. The sharp rise was driven by a surge in piracy off the coast of Somalia, where 97 attacks were recorded in the first quarter of 2011, up from 35 in the same period last year.
Indian Ocean Area
Worldwide in the first quarter of 2011, 18 vessels were hijacked, 344 crew members were taken hostage, and six were kidnapped, IMB reported. A further 45 vessels were boarded, and 45 more reported being fired upon.
“Figures for piracy and armed robbery at sea in the past three months are higher than we’ve ever recorded in the first quarter of any past year,” said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB, whose Piracy Reporting Centre has monitored piracy worldwide since 1991.
IMB 2011 Piracy Map to 10 May 11
In the first three months of 2011, pirates murdered seven crew members and injured 34. Just two injuries were reported in the first quarter of 2006.
Of the 18 ships hijacked worldwide in the first three months of the year, 15 were captured off the east coast of Somalia, in and around the Arabian Sea and one in the Gulf of Aden. In this area alone, 299 people were taken as hostage and a further six were kidnapped from their vessel. At their last count, on 31 March, IMB figures showed that Somali pirates were holding captive 596 crew members on 28 ships.
“We’re seeing a dramatic increase in the violence and techniques used by pirates in the seas off Somalia,” said Captain Mukundan.
He added: “The overwhelming number of vessels hijacked off Somalia took place east and north east of the Gulf of Aden. The positions of some of the attackers’ mother ships are known. It is vital that strong action is taken against these mother ships to prevent further hijackings.”
That's damning with faint praise.
You should also consider the number of attacks on merchant ships thwarted by armed security teams on board ships that came under attack by pirates . . . the IMB numbers are really only about 1/2 the story.