As suppliers to the world’s foremost shipping enterprises, the safety of the crews that steer these cargo ships are of the utmost importance to us. As such, we were very happy to learn that according to the most recent statistics, international waters are currently the safest it’s been for the last 22 years.
According to the most recent reports provided by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), there was a total of 180 incidents of piracy and armed robbery reported against ships worldwide in 2017. This is the lowest number of occurrences of this nature since 1995. In comparison, 2016 saw 191 incidents reported, many with violent attacks against crew members, as well as abductions for ransom.
The director of IMB, Pottengal Mukundan, pointed out that while the decrease in maritime incidents is indeed good news, it does not mean that seafarers should lower their guard. “The Gulf of Guinea and the waters around Nigeria remain a threat,” he stated. According to Mukundan, the fact that the Nigerian authorities have increased their intervention with regard to maritime attacks prevent these incidents from escalating, but hasn’t eradicated it completely. As such, crews aboard ships that pass through these waters will do well to remain vigilant at all times.
The IMB has a Piracy Reporting Centre, which was established as early as 1991 and has since developed into a 24-hour manned centre that provides transparent, timely data on armed robbery incidents on the open seas. This data allows governments and response agencies to receive information directly from the master or owner of a vessel under attack. Incidents can also be viewed online in real time with the aid of IMB’s Live Piracy Map to facilitate an expedited resolution thereof.
DID YOU KNOW? Somali pirates often receive help from local communities on land. Author Martin Murphy quoted a local official in Somalia who said that, “The district gets a percentage of every ransom from ships that have been released and that goes towards public infrastructure, including our hospital and public schools.” There is even a Somali pirate stock exchange to allow investors to contribute weapons or other materials and receive a share of the ransom in return. This explains why pirating is so rife among unemployed young men from these communities.
While we are certainly not quite out of the woods yet where maritime piracy is concerned, it’s heartening to learn that the efforts on the part of law agencies worldwide are paying off. Keep an eye on the Link Ship Chandlers & Ship Suppliers blog in coming weeks and months; we’ll keep you abreast of the latest shipping news and share more information on maritime safety on the open seas.