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Piracy & Armed Robbery Prone Areas and Warnings
CreatedTuesday, 15 November 2011
Last modifiedTuesday, 05 January 2021
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All ships are advised to report all attacks and suspicious sightings to local Authorities, flag state and to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre as per IMO Cir 1334.
Mariners are warned to be extra cautious and to take necessary precautionary measures when transiting the following areas:
South East Asia and Indian Sub-Continent
Bangladesh: Robbers normally target ships at anchor. Most incidents reported are at Chittagong anchorages and approaches. Incidents in Bangladesh have fallen significantly over the past few years because of the efforts by the Bangladesh Authorities.
Indonesia: Taboneo, Dumai/Lubuk Gaung and Muara Berau anchorage and surrounding waters. Pirates / robbers are normally armed with guns / knives and / or machetes. Generally, be vigilant in other areas. Many incidents may have gone unreported. Pirates / robbers normally attack vessel during the night. When spotted and alarm is sounded, the pirates / robbers usually escape without confronting the crew. Therefore, a strict anti-piracy watch is recommended.
Meetings and continued dialog between the Indonesian Marine Police (IMP) and the IMB PRC resulted in positive actions by the Indonesian Authorities which have so far brought down the incidents significantly. With the assistance and actions of the IMP, the incidents appear to be decreasing each year with great success.
The Indonesian Marine Police have advised all ships intending to anchor to do so at / near the following areas where Indonesian Marine Police will conduct patrols for greater protection.
1. Belawan: 03:55.00N-098:45.30E
2. Dumai: 01:42.00N-101:28.00E
3. Nipah: 01:07.30N-103:37.00E
4. Tanjung Berakit/Bintan: 01:23.30N - 104:42.30E
5. Tanjung Priok: 06:00.30S-106:54.00E
6. Gresik: 07:09.00S-112:40.00E
7. Taboneo: 03:41.30S-114:28.00E
8. Adang bay: 01:40.00S-116:40.00E
9. Muara Berau: 00:17.00S-117:36.00E
10. Balikpapan: 01:22.00S-116:53.00E
The Indonesian Authorities have advised IMB that in accordance with the Road Map Program Police Reforms Wave III, the above given ten locations prevention action of sea robbery/piracy in Indonesian waters will continue until further notice.
Ships are advised to maintain strict anti-piracy watch and measures and report all incidents and suspicious sightings to the local authorities and the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre. The IMB PRC will also liaise with the local authorities to render necessary assistance.
Malacca Straits: Although the number of incidents has dropped substantially (2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 recorded zero incidents) due to the increased and aggressive patrols by the littoral states’ authorities since July 2005, ships are advised to continue maintaining strict anti-piracy / robbery watches when transiting the Straits. Currently, there are no indications as to how long these patrols will continue or reduce. In some cases, incidents may have gone unreported. Situation currently remains stable.
Malaysia: Bandar Penawar, Johor - vessels attacked at anchorage. Off Tanjung Piai – vessels attacked while underway. Attacks have stopped and IMB PRC is monitoring and liaising with Malaysian Authorities/MMEA.
In/off Eastern Sabah – Militant activities resulting in a number of tugs/barges/fishing vessels being attacked and crews kidnapped. There were two kidnapping incidents in 2018 and two in 2019 and one in January 2020 off Tambisan, Sabah. The local Authorities have beefed up patrols. The IMB PRC is monitoring the situation. Merchant vessels are also at risk. Stay vigilant.
Ships are advised to take precautionary measures and maintain strict anti-piracy watch and measures. Vessels transiting these waters should refer to the Sabah Notice to Mariners NTM 14 of 2017 on the Ship Reporting System. Vessels are also urged to monitor the IMB PRC Warnings on potential incidents targets / description of militant boats issued by the Philippines and Malaysian Intel.
Philippines: Pirates/Militants in the southern Philippines conduct attacks on vessels in/off Sibutu passage / off Sibutu island / Tawi Tawi / Sulu sea / Celebes sea / off eastern Sabah. They attacked tugs/barges/ fishing vessels/yachts/merchant ships to rob and kidnap crews for ransom.
These kidnappings by militants have stopped ( for merchant ships ) since March 2017. In 2018 there were two incidents where crews were kidnapped off Sabah and two in 2019 and one in 2020 where smaller vessels like tugs and fishing boats were targeted. These kidnappers are believed to be affiliated to the ASG.
Vessels are advised to take precautionary measures and maintain strict anti-piracy watch and measures. Vessels transiting these waters should refer to the Sabah Notice to Mariners NTM 14 of 2017 on the Ship Reporting System. Vessels are also urged to monitor the IMB PRC Warnings on potential incidents locations/ targets issued by the Philippines Intel/ Malaysian Intel.
Manila/Batangas/Tabangas – Be vigilant. A number of past and recent incidents/robberies have been recorded.
Singapore Straits: General Warning issued in December 2019 indicating sudden rise in attacks in Singapore Straits especially during the night. Within several weeks, ten incidents were recorded and many more may be unreported. This Warning is still valid as incidents are still occurring. It appears one or more groups are targeting passing ships including tugs/barges. Authorities were notified and are aware of the situation. Vessels are advised to remain vigilant and to continue maintaining adequate anti-piracy / robbery watches and measures. Pirates / robbers attack ships while underway or while at anchor especially during the night. Pirates/robbers will abort the attempted attack once spotted and alarm sounded and Authorities notified. Therefore a strict watch is necessary.
South China Sea: Although incidents have stopped in the vicinity off Tioman / off Pulau Aur / off Anambas / Natuna / Mangkai islands / Subi Besar / Merundung areas, vessels are advised to continue to remain vigilant especially during the night. In the past, several hijackings of small product tankers occurred off the coast of Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and in the South China Sea area. This trend started in April 2014, but the hijackings stopped abruptly in late 2015. The IMB is monitoring the situation. It has been reported that some criminals have been arrested by local Authorities both in Malaysia and in Indonesia.
There were three incidents reported in 2017 where two tankers were hijacked off Kuantan / Off Pulau Aur / East coast Malaysia.
Africa and Red Sea
Angola: Luanda : Incidents of robberies reported.
Benin (Cotonou): Incidents increasing in/off Benin . In 2018, within a period of several weeks, five incidents were reported at Benin anchorage. Three attacks have been reported in 2019 where thirty five crews were kidnapped. Up to December 2020, 11 vessels were attacked and a number of crews were kidnapped. Vessels are reminded to go for direct berthing if possible, do not drift off the coast and advised to keep at least 250 nm from coast.
In the past, ships especially gas oil tankers are targeted and forced to sail out of Benin anchorage. These tankers were hijacked and later released days after. It is believed that ransom was paid for their release.
Past incidents showed that the pirates / robbers in this area are well armed and violent. In some cases, ships have been fired upon. The pirates forced masters to sail to unknown locations where the ship’s properties and sometimes part cargo is stolen (gas oil). Crewmembers have been injured in the past.
Present incidents involved kidnapping of crews for ransom.
Cameroon (Idenao / Douala): Past incidents involved kidnapping of crews. There were 31 crews kidnapped in 2019. Vessels are reminded to go for direct berthing if possible, do not drift off the coast and advised to keep at least 250nm from coast.
Equatorial Guinea: Past two incidents occurred around 40nm from Luba involving hijacking and the other boarded with criminal intentions.
Ghana (Takoradi): Robberies have been reported at the anchorages.
Guinea (Conakry): Robberies have been reported at the anchorages.
Ivory Coast (Abidjan): Incidents dropped but remains risky.
Nigeria (Lagos/Apapa, Off Bayelsa / Brass / Bonny Island / Port Harcourt): Pirates / robbers are often well armed, violent and have attacked and hijacked / robbed ships / kidnapped crews along / far from the coast, rivers, anchorages, ports and surrounding waters. Incidents reported up to about 196nm from the coast. In many past incidents, pirates hijacked the vessels for several days and ransacked the vessels and stole part cargo usually gas oil. A number of crewmembers were also injured and kidnapped in these incidents. Generally, all waters in / off Nigeria remain risky. Vessels are advised to be vigilant, as many incidents may have also gone unreported. Incidents continue to rise substantially especially kidnapping of crews for ransom. Vessels are advised to take additional measures in these high risk waters. In 2019, 44 crews were kidnapped. Vessels are reminded to go for direct berthing if possible, do not drift off the coast and advised to keep at least 250 nm from coast. There were 34 incidents up to December 2020 with 62 crews kidnapped. Present incidents involved more to kidnapping of crews for ransom..
Togo (Lome): Attacks reported at anchorage and in/off Togo. There were seven crews reported kidnapped in 2019 and three incidents reported off Lome with 3 crews kidnapped for 2020. The area remains at risk. In the past, pirates / robbers in this area are well armed, violent and dangerous. Incidents can occur at anchorages and off the coast and usually at night. Some past incidents resulted in vessels being hijacked for several days and ransacked and part cargo stolen (gas oil). Currently, kidnapping of crews are rampant in the GoG. Vessels are reminded to go for direct berthing if possible, do not drift off the coast and advised to keep at least 250 nm from coast.
The Congo: Pointe Noire/Off Point – stay vigilant..
Red Sea / Gulf of Aden / Somalia / Arabian Sea / Indian Ocean: No reported attacks in 2019 and 2020. In 2018, three vessels have reported being fired upon in this region. Although the opportunity for incidents has reduced, the Somali pirates continue to possess the capability and capacity to carry out incidents. All merchant ships are advised to adhere to the latest recommendations in BMP5, while transiting these waters. The IMB PRC will continue to alert and broadcast information to all ships in the region via Inmarsat EGC Safety Net.
Although no reported incidents, the threat still exists in the waters off the southern Red Sea / Bab el Mandeb, Gulf of Aden including Yemen and the northern Somali coast, Arabian sea / off Oman, Gulf of Oman and off the eastern and southern Somali coast. In the past, vessels have been attacked off Kenya, Tanzania, Seychelles, Madagascar, Mozambique as well as in the Indian ocean and off the west and south coasts of India and west Maldives. Be vigilant.
Generally, Somali pirates tend to be well armed with automatic weapons, RPGs and sometimes use skiffs launched from mother vessels, which may be hijacked fishing vessels or dhows. Masters and ship owners are encouraged to register and report their vessels as per the BMP5 procedures and ensure that their vessel is hardened prior to entering the high-risk area. While transiting through these waters it is essential to maintain a 24-hour visual and radar watch. Keeping in mind the warnings and alerts for the area, an early sighting / detection of an approaching skiff will enable an accurate assessment, allowing the Master and PCASP to make informed decisions to keep clear of small boats, dhows, fishing vessels and if necessary take evasive actions and request assistance as needed.
Masters are reminded that fishermen in this region may try to protect their nets by attempting to aggressively approach merchant vessels. Some of the fishermen may be armed to protect their catch and they should not be confused with pirates.
Vessels transiting in / off Yemen: Security risk due to civil war in Yemen (not piracy related)
Vessels transiting in Gulf of Aden: Fired upon /approached - Yemen conflict ( not piracy related ).
Vessels transiting Strait of Hormuz / Gulf of Oman / Off Iran: Two incidents in 2019 involving explosions on tanker reported. (not piracy related).
South and Central America and the Caribbean Waters
Brazil: Macapa : incidents increasing. Stay vigilant.
Equador: Guayaquil anchorage / river passage with pilot: Robbers well-armed. Fired upon.
Haiti: Port Au Prince
Mexico: Puerto Dos Bocas : Pirates/Robbers in this area armed with guns.
Peru (Callao): Incidents increasing. Robbery incidents continuing. Maintain vigilant watch and anti-piracy measures.
Venezuela: (Puerto La Cruz / Puerto Jose): Past robbery incidents. Ships are reminded to maintain strict anti-piracy watch and measures especially at anchor.
Reporting of incidents
All incidents (actual and attempted) and suspicious sightings should be reported to local authorities, flag states and to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre as per IMO Cir 1334. Ships are advised to maintain strict anti-piracy watches and measures especially in high risk waters.
Tel: +60 3 2078 5763 Fax: +60 3 2078 5769 E-mail: email@example.com
The Centre’s 24 Hours Anti-Piracy HELPLINE is: +60 3 2031 0014
IMB Maritime Security Hotline
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has also launched a dedicated hotline for seafarers, port workers, shipping agents, shipyard personnel, brokers, stevedores, and all concerned parties to report any information that they may have seen / heard / known etc. relating to maritime crime and security including terrorism, piracy and other illegal activities.
All information received will be treated in strict confidence and will be passed on to relevant Authorities for further action. Maritime crime and security concerns us all and with your help, we can try to minimize the risks and help save lives and property.
The Maritime Security Hotline can be contacted 24 hours every day at:
Tel: +60 3 2031 0014 Fax: +60 3 2078 5769 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
REMEMBER: Your information may save lives. All information will be treated in strict confidence