Attacks on small tankers have reached worrying levels in Southeast Asia, the scene of five of six vessel hijackings reported worldwide during the third quarter, according to the International Maritime Bureau.
Lloyd’s List reports that this comes despite the third consecutive annual fall in piracy on a global scale.
Southeast Asia has seen gangs of thieves armed with knives and guns target vessels carrying products such as gasoil or marine diesel oil. Having boarded the ship at sea, the pirates hold the crew hostage for a short time while they unload all or part of the cargo, either for their own use or to sell locally. Matters are particularly acute in Indonesia, which recorded 72 incidents between January and September, including 67 armed robberies and fi ve hijackings.
In two separate hijackings off Pulau Bintan in September, 26 crew were taken hostage.
Elsewhere in Indonesia, 59 vessels were boarded and there were eight attempted attacks. The waters off Pulau Bintan have seen more attacks than any other area in the world, with 27 incidents reported. Most incidents were low-level thefts or attempted thefts from vessels at anchor or berthed.
By contrast, Somali has been remarkably quiet, with just 10 incidents reported so far this year. Nevertheless, the IMB stressed that some 40 seafarers are still held captive by Somali pirates.
The number of incidents reported in Nigeria has also dropped noticeably, down to 13 in the fi rst nine months of 2014, from 29 in the same period last year.
Elsewhere in the Gulf of Guinea, Ghana recorded four incidents in 2014, having recorded none in 2013. This includes the hijackings of two product tankers — and theft of their cargoes — and of a fi shing vessel and the taking hostage of 86 crew members.