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2015 Crime Roundup

 
January 15th 2016
Although reported crime may be decreasing, possibly with less from the Indian Ocean, successful boarding of ships is steadily increasing.

 

In our monthly anchorage reports we are creating a focus on the hot spots and working with Industry we can approach the port authorities and work as one to solve the crime.

 

 

 

2015 may not have seen attacks on merchant shipping off Somalia, but there were still 216 robberies and attempted robberies, 67 incidents of ship's stores theft and 61 piracy incidents reported globally. A full breakdown including ship types can be found on the CSO Alliance website.

 

2015 marked another year without success for the pirates of Somalia, at least in terms of merchant shipping. Local dhow traffic was another matter, and one which the merchant marine should take note of. Dhows make very useful motherships and, while the naval coalition has done great work in identifying motherships as they leave the Somali coast, they’ve admitted that they can’t be everywhere. It will only take one success to embolden the region’s pirates once more, and the overall view is that while the threat has diminished, it is still there.

 

The incident involving the Iranian dhow, Muhammadi, still vexes experts. Despite a report from EUNAVFOR, NATO and the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), the facts remain unclear. As readers may recall, the dhow was reportedly hijacked on November 22nd off Somalia, only to be freed on November 29th following a “battle” between the crew and pirates, which saw several killed. This version of events would appear to be in question, however, and there has been significant speculation that the vessel was involved in smuggling and that claiming to have been hijacked was expeditious. Another rumour suggested that the dhow had been a mothership (which would account for the alleged attack against a Thai longliner during the same time period) and that after the pirates had left the mothership, the Master saw a naval ship and panicked, using the hijacking claim in order to divert attention. The truth will probably never be known.

 

That a number of dhows were indeed hijacked last year is beyond question, and one certainly remains under the control of pirates along with the 26 crew of the fishing vessel Naham 3, hijacked on March 26th 2012. The recent dhow hijackings have been blamed on illegal fishing, which was the original excuse used to justify Somali hijackings. For us, the reason behind the crime doesn’t matter. We’re more concerned with the crime itself, which is why 2015’s crime figures make such interesting reading.

 

In Southeast Asia, the first two thirds of the year were marked by a series of hijackings of small, coastal tankers whose oil cargoes were stolen. In West Africa, there were fewer incidents of hijack but crew kidnap became the more lucrative crime, with large numbers of crew abducted and held for ransom by Nigerian criminal gangs. 

 

Moving away from piracy, the ongoing issue in the region is low level theft at port and anchorage. Piracy may get the headlines, but these are the annoying, time and cost-intensive crimes which affect shipping on a daily basis.

 

As our figures show, there were some 216 incidents of robbery and attempted robbery reported in 2015 by the shipping industry globally. Given late reports from Flag and others, we expect this figure to increase slightly in the coming weeks as other statistics are added and collated by the reporting agencies. Ship stores thefts and acts of piracy were the second and third highest reported crimes respectively. A full breakdown of incidents is available to members on the CSO Alliance website.

 

As an organization, we have spent much of 2015 strengthening our ties with the regional reporting agencies, private sector intelligence providers, shipping associations such as BIMCO and the military in order to bring members the clearest possible picture of illegal maritime acts. This work continues in 2016, and we hope to bring you more news on this soon.

 

By working together, the shipping industry, military and reporting agencies can do much to clamp down on maritime crime and ensure the safety of crews, cargoes and reputations.



Click here to view our stats for 2015.