Somali waters witnessed 435 piracy incidents in the last five years (2009-2013), while three incidents were reported in the first half of 2014. Although attacks from Somali pirates have fallen drastically, thanks to Operation Atalanta, also known as the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) Somalia, the risk of being approached or attacked is still high.
Somali pirates are usually well armed with automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades occasionally boarding skiffs launched from mother vessels to conduct attacks far away from the coast. An Iranian fishing vessel hijacked by armed pirates off the coast of Somalia in July 2013 is a notable example, the crew members were liberated on the same day.
The Indonesian coast has witnessed 288 piracy incidents over the last five years. Despite patrolling efforts by Indonesian Marine Police, 47 attacks were reported in the first half of 2014. Most of the incidents are, however, low-profile thefts in comparison with more serious attacks off then Somalian coast. The waters off Tanjung Priok, Bintan Island, Karimun Island and Belawan anchorage and surroundings are most exposed to attacks.
A Thai-flagged oil tanker MT Orapin 4 hijacked by armed pirates on 28 May 2014 in Bintan Island is the most notable attack in the recent past. The pirates destroyed all communications systems aboard the ship, stole all cargo but left the vessel without harming the crew. The hijacked vessel was found by the Royal Thai Navy in Chon Buri province and safely returned to Sriracha port in Thailand on 1 June 2014.
Gulf of Aden
The waters off the Gulf of Aden witnessed 226 piracy incidents between 2009 and 2013. The joint efforts of Navies in the region and BMP4 procedures however reduced the number of such incidents to just four in the first half of 2014. Somali pirates are accounted for most of the attacks in the region.
The Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) established the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) in the region while the EUNAVFOR – Operation Atalanta’s current fleet including two Karel Doorman Class frigates (from Belgium and Netherlands), a Santa Maria Class Frigate (Spain), a Horizon Class destroyer (Italy) and a Berlin Class combat support ship (Germany) as well as P-3 Orin maritime patrol aircraft protect the merchant vessels in the area.
The Nigerian coast and surrounding waters witnessed 116 piracy incidents in the last five years, while ten attacks were reported in H1 2014. Apart from the rivers, anchorages and ports which are vulnerable to attacks, incidents have been reported 170nmi off the coast.
Prime Lady, a Nigerian supply vessel, hijacked off the coast of Nigeria by seven pirates on 04 March 2014, is one of the most notable incidents this year. The pirates detained the crew members and broke the locked cabins as well as stores to steal property.
A total of 94 piracy incidents have been reported in Red Sea in the last five years. Attacks have dropped considerably due to active military anti-piracy missions and preventive measures as well as armed guards placed aboard merchant vessels.
Attempts to attack two chemical tankers in the first half of 2014 in Red Sea were unsuccessful due to counterattack by onboard armed security guards.
Straits of Malacca/Malaysia
The Straits of Malacca and waters off Malaysia witnessed 79 piracy incidents during 2009-2014. The IMB PRC has been reported with 10 incidents in the first half of 2014. Attacks in the Malacca Straits have fallen considerably due to anti-piracy operations by the navies of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
The Strait of Malacca is prone to pirate attacks as it is approachable from a number of islets. MT NaniWa Maru No.1, a St Kitts and Nevis flagged product tanker, was hijacked off Malacca Straits by ten armed pirates in April 2014. The pirates unloaded the oil cargo into an unknown vessel and looted ship and crew property. They also damaged the communication systems and escaped with three hostages.
74 piracy/armed robbery incidents were recorded in the last five years in and around the waters off Bangladesh,. The PRC took note of 10 incidents in the first half of 2014. Chittagong anchorages and accesses are the most affected areas and ships preparing to anchor have been the most vulnerable to these attacks. Fewer attacks were recorded in the recent past due to anti-piracy efforts by the Bangladesh Coast Guard.
The most recent attack occurred at Chittagong Literage Anchorage on 27 September 2014. An anchored product tanker was boarded by four men armed with knives. The robbers detained the duty crew and stole the stores. The remaining crew were informed about the incident when the duty crew managed to get away with minor injuries.
South China Sea
Despite measures by the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), a total of 63 piracy attacks were reported in the South China Sea over the last five years, especially in and around Anambas, Natuna, Mangkai islands, Subi Besar and Merundung areas.
A Honduras flagged product tanker Moresby 9 was hijacked by nine armed pirates on 4 July 2014 near Anambas Islands in South China Sea. Pirates unloaded over 2,000t of marine gas oil from the vessel. Moresby 9 also suffered similar attack in 2013 and a Malaysian-flagged oil tanker was also hijacked in the region in the same month of this year.
The anchorages and ports off the waters of India witnessed 45 piracy/armed robbery incidents from 2009 to 2013, while four incidents were reported in the first half of 2014. Kandla anchorages remain to be the most affected area.
The Indian Coast Guard and Indian Navy conduct anti-piracy patrols in the Arabian Sea. The Indian Navy also provides escort for merchant ships sailing through the 490nmi long IRTC in the Gulf of Aden. Indian Naval ships have foiled over 40 piracy attempts since their deployment in October 2008.
The Singapore Straits saw 38 piracy incidents in the last five years and six incidents in the first half of 2014. Air patrols are conducted by Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand under the Eyes-in-the-Sky (EiS) initiative to protect merchant shipping in the Singapore and Malacca Straits.
Coordinated air patrol missions are allowed over the international and national airspace over the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. Despite these anti-piracy efforts by authorities, a Saudi Arabia-flagged chemical tanker was recently boarded by armed robbers who escaped with stolen property.