New Report Highlights Continued Threat of Somali Piracy

(Top) Types of attacks. (Above) Types of vessels attacked. Images courtesy of ICC Commercial Crime Services.

In its first quarter report for 2024, the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has raised concern regarding continued acts of maritime piracy off the coast of Somalia. 

A total of 33 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were recorded during the first three months of 2024, an increase from 27 incidents for the same period in 2023.

Of the 33 incidents reported, 24 vessels were boarded, six had attempted attacks, two were hijacked and one was fired upon, data show. Violence toward crew continues, with 35 crew members taken hostage, nine kidnapped and one threatened.

Worrying Rise in Somali Pirate Activity

The Q1 report highlights the continued threat of Somali piracy incidents with two reported hijackings. In addition, one vessel each was fired upon, boarded and reported an attempted approach. The incidents were attributed to Somali pirates who demonstrate mounting capabilities, targeting vessels at great distances, from the Somali coast.

A Bangladesh flagged bulk carrier was hijacked on March 12 and its 23 crew were taken hostage by more than 20 Somali pirates. The vessel was underway about 550 nautical miles (nm) from Mogadishu while enroute from Mozambique to the United Arab Emirates.

The IMB has said that it’s aware of several reported hijacked dhows and fishing vessels, which are ideal mother ships to launch attacks at distances from the Somali coastline.

ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton said: “The resurgence of Somali pirate activity is worrying, and now more than ever it is crucial to protect trade, safeguard routes, and the safety of seafarers who keep commerce moving. All measures to ensure the uninterrupted free flow of goods throughout international supply chains must be taken.”

IMB has commended the timely and positive actions from authorities ensuring the release and safety of the crew.

A 40-hour operation by the Indian navy in the Indian Ocean on 15 March 2024 culminated in the capture of 35 Somali pirates and the release of a previously highjacked vessel and its 17 crew.

A bulk carrier boarded by pirates on 4 January over 450 nm off the east coast of Somalia was rendered safe along with its 21 crew members by an Indian naval vessel.

In late January, the Seychelles coast guard intervened to safeguard a hijacked fishing vessel and its six crew. Three suspected Somali pirates were apprehended in this operation. 

IMB Director Michael Howlett said:

“We reiterate our ongoing concern on the Somali piracy incidents and urge vessel owners and masters to follow all recommended guidelines in the latest version of the Best Management Practices (BMP 5). We also commend the actions of the Indian navy and Seychelles coast guard for intercepting hijacked vessels, safeguarding crews and capturing pirates.”

Caution Urged in Gulf of Guinea

Incidents within the Gulf of Guinea waters continue to be at a reduced level. Six incidents were reported in Q1 2024 compared to five in the same period of 2023. The IMB urges continued caution as nine crew were kidnapped from a product tanker on 1 January 2024 around 45nm south of Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea.

“While we welcome the reduction of incidents, piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea remains a threat. Continued and robust regional and international naval presence to respond to these incidents and to safeguard life at sea is crucial,” Howlett said.

Rising Risks in Bangladesh, Singapore Straits

There has been a noticeable increase in reported low-level opportunistic crimes in Bangladeshi waters in 2024 with seven reported incidents received—six from vessels at anchorage in Chattogram—compared to one report for the whole of 2023.

The Singapore Straits recorded five incidents against four large bulk carriers and a general cargo vessel, considered low-level opportunistic incidents. But the threat for crew safety remains high as five crew were taken hostage in three separate incidents in January. 

Digital copies of the Q1 2024 Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships can be requested at   

Global Shipping Losses Hit All-Time Low Despite Increasing Risks: Report

The shipping industry has made significant improvements when it comes to maritime safety in recent years. During the 1990s, the global fleet lost 200+ vessels a year. This total had halved by 10 years ago and was down to a record low and the end of 2023, according to a review by business insurance company Allianz Commercial.

The review, which was released in late May shows just 26 total losses of vessels over 100 gross tonnage (GT) during 2023, compared with 41 a year earlier, down by more than a third.

Annual shipping losses have declined by 70% over the past decade, from 89 in 2014.

South China, Indochina, Indonesia and the Philippines are the region that’s the main loss hotspot globally, both over the past year and decade, accounting for almost of third of all losses at sea in 2023, data show.

“A huge volume of imports and exports flows through the region, resulting in high levels of shipping traffic, which is reflected in the number of incidents,” Allianz said.

The past decade has seen 729 total losses reported around the world, according to the data, and three regions —South China, Indochina, Indonesia and the Philippines (184), East Mediterranean and Black Sea (115), and Japan, Korea and North China (62)—accounted for almost 50% of global loss activity.

Cargo ships accounted for over 60% of vessels lost during 2023 (16). Foundered (sunk) was the main cause of total loss across all vessel types (13), accounting for 50%. Wrecked/stranded ranks second (4), with fire/explosion third (3). Fire activity onboard vessels declined during 2023.

However, there have still been 55 total losses caused by fires in the past five years, and there were over 200 fire incidents reported during 2023 alone (205)—the second highest total for a decade after 2022.

The number of reported shipping casualties or incidents also declined during 2023 (2,951 compared to 3,036), albeit only by 3%. The British Isles region saw the highest number of reported incidents (695).

Machinery damage or failure accounted for over half of all shipping incidents globally (1,587).

The British Isles is also the new top location for the most shipping incidents over the past decade (5,279) according to Allianz, replacing the East Mediterranean and Black Sea, and accounting for 19% of the 27,821 reported incidents over the past decade.

Globally, most incidents are caused by machinery damage or failure (11,506), followed by collision with other vessels (3,014), wrecked/stranded (2,808) and contact with port infrastructure (1,916).

Allianz’ full report can be seen and downloaded at