|Report on Marinetime Hijackings
There has been a rise in maritime hijackings last year with action shifting to Gulf of Aden from the once dreaded Malacca Straits.
According to the annual report of the ICC-International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Report Centre, last year marked a new high also in terms of the ability of Somali pirates to range out farther into the sea.
Worldwide a total number of 49 vessels were hijacked; 889 crew taken hostage and a further 46 vessels reported being fired upon. There were 293 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships — more than 11 per cent up in 2007.
The increase was attributed to the unprecedented number of attacks in the Gulf of Aden.
As on December 31, Somali pirates were holding 13 vessels for ransom and 242 crew hostage, the report says.
The total incidents in which guns were used were 139, up from 72 in 2007. Thirty-two crew members were injured, 11 killed and 21 presumed dead. The pirates/robbers boarding the vessels are better armed and prepared to assault and injure the crew, the report says.
The last 12 months saw the largest tanker ever being hijacked by Somali pirates, and successful attacks carried out at greater distances from land, along the east coast of Africa than ever before. All types of vessels, with varying freeboards and speeds have been targeted and attacked, the report said.
In India, ten cases of actual/attempted attacks were reported in various ports – one less than in 2007. The number of incidents in Indian waters was 23 in 2003; 15 in the next two years; five in the next and 11 in 2007, the IMB said.
The report states that 111 incidents were reported from the east coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden in 2008, thrice as many as in 2007.
The attacks peaked in September with 19 attacks. In October and November, there were 15 and 16 vessels, respectively. These numbers are due to the increased ability of Somali pirates to range further out to sea than before. This coupled with the inability of the Somali government to respond, encouraged the pirates.
On the positive side, the report said Malacca Straits has seen a further reduction in the number of incidents reported only two in 2008 compared with seven in 2007.
Container vessels were the main target with 49 attacks by pirates; followed by bulk carries with 47; chemical tankers 37 and general cargo 38, the report said.
Date : 20/01/2009
Courtesy : Businessline