• 201 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships reported worldwide in 2018, up from 180 in 2017

We can only hope that 2019 will inspire regional and international players to improve the security situation and allow the blue economy in the littoral states to flourish,

...states Jakob P. Larsen, Head of Security, BIMCO.

The successful Asian model of response VS Yemen’s complex conflict

Reducing the number of piracy and sea robbery incidents in Asia over the past decade has been successful considering the numbers published annually by ReCAAP ISC:

  •  76 piracy and sea robbery incidents reported in 2018
  • 101 piracy and sea robbery incidents reported in 2017
  • 85 piracy and sea robbery incidents in 2016
  • 200 piracy and sea robbery incidents reported in 2015

 Despite the 25% year-on-year decrease, and the lowest in a decade the Asia, Yemen conflict still pushes maritime industry to tighten security,

By looking at what works we can see that the Asian model of a coordinated response, backed by proper intelligence, provides a good template for how to deal with this scourge. Those hard-won lessons are now being applied to the new threats that the shipping industry is facing off Yemen,

...Dr. Phillip Belcher, INTERTANKO’s Marine Director, stated during the annual ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ISC) Piracy and Sea Robbery Conference 2018

Ships operating in Yemen waters are facing new threats, including sea mines and water-borne improvised explosive devices (WBIEDs), arising from the armed conflict in Yemen; a conflict being on and off since 2004, currently being over the control of the region between the Saudi-led coalition and Iran, although Iran has officially denied any involvement. The proxy war between the Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition has allowed ISIL to gain foothold in Yemen. Specifically, the groups involved are;

  • the Yemeni government, which is primarily Sunni and supported by a coalition of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia;
  • the rebel group known as the Houthis, which in the 1990s grew out of the Shia Zaidi sect as an opposition to the Sunni-dominated government;
  • and Al-Qaeda and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIL, also known as ISIS)

The latest case - November 2018: Two suspicious skiffs attempted piracy attack to a Chemical Tanker as the vessel was making northbound passage through the Red Sea west of Yemen. After warning hand flares were fired, the skiffs ceased approach and passed by the stern.

When we sail off the coast of Yemen we choose to use guards due to the lawless state prevailing in the country at the moment. This has created the same kind of desperation in the population as we saw in Somalia a number of years ago,

...has stated Erik Hånell, CEO Stena Bulk.

The proxy war in Yemen has frequently spilled over to the Red Sea, directly affecting shipowners and operators.

What’s the status in African waters? 

  • 66 attacks were reported against ships in Africa in the first quarter of 2018
  • Attacks in waters between the Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo more than doubled in 2018


According to BIMCO, Somali piracy was suppressed by effective ship protection measures and naval presence. Recent incidents illustrate that the threat of Somali pirates has diminished. However, many of the root causes that allowed piracy to flourish between 2005 and 2012 are still very much present in Somalia.

Gulf of Guinea

Piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea continue at persistently high levels. 2019 kicked off with Pirates attacking the container ship “MSC Mandy”, on January 2, off Benin, kidnapping six crewmembers. Additionally, IMB has already reported the first two piracy incidents of 2019 that took place off Nigeria.

In the last three months of 2018, 41 kidnappings were recorded in waters off Nigeria alone

Several capacity building initiatives have been introduced in the region since the Yaoundé Code of Conduct was agreed, but the actual security situation in the Gulf of Guinea is not sufficient. One of the reasons is that other security challenges in the region, such as land-based terrorist threats, generate a high demand for law enforcement resources.

UN's finds that between January 1st and November 23rd 2018, there were 82 reported incidents on maritime crime and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. The report further explains that Nigeria lost an estimated $2.8 billion in revenues in 2018, mainly due to oil-related crimes.

EU, China and the U.S. needs to support counter-piracy operations in Gulf of Guinea,

...states Jakob P. Larsen, BIMCO.

It is time to step up law enforcement efforts, establish control of the sea in the Gulf of Guinea, relieve seafarers from the threat and the psychological pressure, and allow the countries in the region to harvest the full economic potential of the seas.

Latin America and the Caribbean

Latin America does not usually come to mind when it comes to maritime security. The region does not suffer from the high-impact piracy incidents that pose a considerable threat to vessels and crews operating in the high-risk areas of the Gulf of Guinea, Horn of Africa and South-East Asia. The latest report on maritime piracy in the region was 2017 Oceans Beyond Piracy Report reporting 71 incidents in Latin America and the Caribbean. Most incidents in the region occurred in territorial waters, with anchored yachts being the primary targets for attackers.

While speaking at the 2018 SAFETY4SEA Cyprus Conference, Mr .Dimitrios Maniatis, Chief Commercial Officer, Diaplous Maritime Services, focused on how maritime security affects the human element and referred briefly  at incidents and recent developments in a number of areas including Nigeria, other WAF countries, the HRA and South East Asia.

With regard to piracy, the Best Management Practices to Deter Piracy and Enhance Maritime Security in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea (BMP5), provide excellent security recommendations and should be consulted prior to operating in the above-mentioned geographic areas.