Most of the number of attacks that have been reported have been published in the Weekly Piracy Reports at the The Web site of the International Chamber of Commerce. The first weekly report of 2002 contained incidents about 2001 only. The weekly reports1 in all report 169 incidents in the first six months. The first quarterly piracy report of the IMB13 puts the number for the first 3 months at 87. During the first three months the number of incidents in Indonesian waters remains the highest. The number of incidents in African waters has increased markedly, however: over a third of the 87 reports occurred there. The African countries that account for most incidents in this period are: Guinea, Nigeria, Somalia, Tanzania, the Ivory Coast and the Red Sea. The IMO has so far reported on 115 incidents in five monthly reports2, 14/15 + 33/34. One of the reasons mentioned for the increase is the global economic slowdown. So far a total of 181 separate incidents (including warnings) have been reported this year. If I make an estimate of incidents NOT reported in the IMB Weekly reports based on the "Comparison of 2001 Figures of the International Maritime Bureau" the total number could be as high as: 87 + (82 / 3 * 4) = 196,33.
There have also been a few incidents which have been reported in newspapers and at the websites of the Int'l Vessel Cas. D'base and the ASAM database which have so far not been included in official reports by either the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) or the International Maritime Organization. The total number for the first 6 months is therefore, according to my conservative estimate, somewhere around: 200. The graph contains only the incidents from the weekly reports set out against the reports for 2001! The graph shows a general increase of reported incidents in the weekly reports for 2002 as compared to 2001. This indicates that the number of incidents is increasing again and that the total number over the whole of 2002 may be higher again than last years' total.
Some of the more notable piracy incidents in the second quarter of 2002 so far are:
02.04.2002 at 0216 UTC in position 00:37.8N - 008:48.7E, Port Gentil, Gabon.
While at anchor, about 30 pirates armed with rifles, pistols and long knives boarded a container ship and assaulted the master, injuring him very seriously. He suffered a broken nose, broken left hand, left leg and spine. The pirates stole half of ship's GMDSS equipment, ship's property and cash from the crew. They also broke open 12 containers and stole goods from them. Pirates left 30 minutes later taking with them ship's certificates, crews' seamen books and certificates. Vessel proceeded to open sea to avoid further boarding1.
According to newspaper articles in the New Straits Times a group of fishermen from Parit Jawa were kidnapped for ransom on 18 April. While fishing in Malaysian waters they were stopped and held at gunpoint until they paid RM 30,000 in protection money. They were ordered by the kidnappers to pay 6 months in advance for every fishing boat. A list of paid members had to be made to ensure that these fishermen would be left alone during those six months. The fishermen reported the kidnapping to the Marine police who are now investigating the case6-7
A gang of sea pirates numbering six at the weekend struck on board M/V Frio Japan and carted away one full drum of engine oil at the Port Harcourt Wharf on 21 April 2002. It happened at about 2a.m. when six able-bodied men armed with clubs and machetes forcefully came on board the ship at Berth 8, and was discharging 30kg cartons of frozen fish. The pirates overpowered the two security men on board, injuring one of them, Godpower Kirah, who is now receiving treatment at a nearby clinic. The crew on duty fled into their cabins, locking up the alley way leading to the cabins and leaving the two security men to face their wrath. However, the Port Police on duty were said to have been alerted over the incident as the pirates hurriedly rolled out one full drum of engine oil into the river and fled12. Criminals and sea pirates along the Nigerian coast have been active again at the end of April when they attacked an oil drilling platform of the American company Chevron Texaco8. The workers on the platform were held hostage and demands were made for work. After some negotiating by the company with local leaders and the youths the hostage situation was ended peacefully9.
"Suspected pirates fired at two dredgers working on the Tuas project in the Singapore Straits on 22 May, prompting a heightened warning for the area from the International Piracy Reporting centre. Both vessels took evasive action and fled the area when attacked.
In the first incident the Queen of Ocean Penta was followed by a small craft with yellow flashing lights which was joined by a second small craft. Both tried to stop the ship by overtaking and crossing the bow at 9.40 pm. No attempt was made by the small craft to contact the ship. Rapid fire hit the Panama-flagged vessel after dark as the vessel approached Singapore. After some light rounds were fired gunfire was intensified with large-bore weapons. Two windows of the bridge were hit by bullets and several steel plates around the bridge and accomodation corridor above the waterline were punctured. Applying a zig zag course at full speed scared the attackers into abandoning the attack.
The second incident happened within an hour after the first incident, at more or less the same location. In this case, the master of the ship reported that a small craft had opened fire at his vessel. The Netherlands-flagged Volvox Hansa immediately altered course and returned to Singapore and safely anchored at West Jurong before midnight28.
In the Bay of Bengal, near Sunderbans, 4 trawlers were attacked by approximately 30 pirates. In all 22 fishermen were taken hostage late on Thursday 13 June when they had docked in the heavily-forested coastal areas of West Bengal. Initially 2 fishermen were released and sent to communicate the ransom demand of $40,000. On the same day an additional 11 fishermen were released.
After filing a complaint at a local police station the Indian Coast Guard was alerted31. According to an article in The Statesman a rescue operation to rescue the remaining 9 fishermen was begun on 16 June at the Kendo Islands. Members of the Border Security Force and the State Police have joined the Indian Coast Guard in this operation. The fishermen are reportedly held captive somewhere on the Kendo and Bagmara Islands by pirates who are reputed to be Bangladeshi nationals. At least 16 trawlers and a light guard have been deployed at the islands. So far no fishermen have been rescued32. This incident has not yet appeared in any of the reports of the IMO or IMB.
A Singapore-flagged tugboat called Sintel Marine 88 had a coal barge in tow when it was attacked in the waters South of the Philippine island Jolo. The vessel was on its way to Cebu and took a shortcut to reach its destination. The officers of the crew (all Indonesian) were taken hostage by the pirates and were taken to the Island of Jolo. The Tug and barge were left to drift off Tamuk island near Basilan with the two remaning crew35. One of the hostages managed to escape from his abductors and was found after a long "hike" through the jungle at the village of Nangkaan36. At first there was some doubt as to the identity of the abductors and the Abu Sayyaf was suspected to be involved. According to a newspaper article of 25 June in the Philippine Daily Inquirer the pirate group was reported to be unconnected to the Abu Sayyaf. The confusion also had to do with the supposed identification from a photo by the escaped Indonesian of Abu Sayyaf leader Hamsiraji Sali as part of the abductors. It turned out to be a mistake and the pirate leader is now identified as Commander Malud Mahili37. Malud is a notorious pirate based in Lahing-Lahing, Sulu38. He commands a gang of 20 armed followers39. Offers of help from the commander of American troops in the area were declined by the Philippine government40.
At a meeting at the end of March 2002 a group of experts from the Mano River Union met to discuss the general security situation along the borders of the countries: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The meeting resulted in two specific suggestions to improve the security in the region: Establish border units between the three countries, and create secure corridors for travel on land and at sea between the three countries3.
According to an article in Asia Times joint patrolling of the Straits of Malacca by India and the United States of America would soon become a reality in the near future. India's Cabinet Committee on Security has apparantly approved a proposal of the USA in this regard. Both India and the USA have a vested commercial and political interest in keeping the Straits safe for merchant shipping. The fact that India has set up a task force on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands makes it easier to also monitor traffic coming through the Straits from the South China Sea. India sees the plan for joint patrolling the Straits also as an endorsement of its claim that it's military and security interests stretch up to the Straits4.
According to an recent article in the Shipping Times the USA and India have now started patrolling the Malacca Straits. The patrols by USA vessels involve only the escorting of merchant marine vessels who are transporting cargoe necessary for the "Enduring Freedom Operation" in the Arabian Sea and elsewhere10. With regard to these patrols the Royal Malaysian Navy is sharing intelligence with the US and Indian navies11. This cooperation between three navies may eventually turn into something more permanent and lasting to protect the Malacca Straits from pirates.
An international seminar was held on 15 May at the Central Park hotel in Pune by the Indian Maritime Foundation. Professionals from several countries were invited to attend the discussions on piracy, robbery, hijackings and the fight against terrorism 16.
According to the Maritime Security Bulletin5 the Government of Malaysia is trying to increase security in the Sabah area. It has issued a ban on pump boats from operating in Sabah waters from 1 April. Whether the measure is succesfull, or can even be implemented, remains to be seen: many local traders and fishermen also use these kind of boats in their line of work and may not be able to operate without them. This ban follows a similar ban imposed after Philippine separatists raided a resort on the island Sipadan and escaped with the hostages back to the Southern Philippines.
Malaysia is now also trying to extend its intelligence network to increase its ability for information gathering. This includes closer cooperation with the Indonesian and Singaporean teams. Better information would allow the police to increase the efficiency of the police in patrolling waters. The police in Malaysia will be setting up the Malaysian Police Coast Guard. Malaysia is planning to construct new bases of operation and anchorage areas as well as buying new patrol boats this year. In the middle of this year Malaysia will also conduct a joint training exercise with the US Coast Guard in Malaysian waters 17.
Recently, talks were held between officials of the USA and Indonesia on defense and security. These talks may signify that both countries are willing, in future, to strengthen military ties between them again. Much will depend, however, on the internal reforms that the Indonesian Navy is now undergoing, and also on the results of the ad hoc tribunal of officers accused of crimes against humanity in East Timor.
he Legal Committee (LC) of the IMO has recently reported on discussions it held on a number of subjects relating to maritime security at its 84th session on 22 - 26 April 2002. The Committee was asked to formulate recommendations for the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) by the Intersessional Working Group on Maritime Security (ISWG) in February. The MSC has scheduled a conference in December of this year.
The discussions of the LC included a study of the ISM Code (with regard to the definitions of ownership and control of ships), the UNCTAD Convention on Ship Registration and the SUA Convention (Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation) and protocol 18-19.
Several hijackings of fishing vessels have taken place by pirates near Cirebon, Indonesia. There are also reports of increased rivalry among fishermen along the Northern coast of Java. Fishing boats have been set on fire on the basis of accusations of overfishing20.
At the end of June Thailand and Indonesia will hold a second bilateral meeting at Songkhla to solve fishery problems. These problems increase the already volatile situation existing in some Indonesian waters since Thai fishermen sometimes apparantly stray into waters not covered by existing agreements on specific fishing areas. Part of the Thai fishermen are currently looking for new fishing grounds because of depleted marine resources in the Gulf of Thailand, according to a fisheries expert from the Thai Embassy, Wittaya Chaisuwan. Indonesian fishermen were unhappy about the Thai fishermen because they are better equipped with more advanced boats and fishing gear. At the moment Indonesian waters are more popular among Thai fishermen since Myanmar closed its waters to them21.
The Philippine Navy has set up a new naval task group based on the existing task group Sea Hawk whi had been set up in July 2001. The new task group has been named Stingray and consists of two eight-man special forces teams, three new patrol gunboats and a Navy fixed-wing Iskander. The group will patrol areas based on intelligence reports from the military, the task group's onboard technical intelligence support team and resort communities. Tourist resorts in the Southern Philippines have reacted favourably to the new task group22. There was, however, also some doubt expressed about it's effectiveness in a recent article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Apparantly naval forces near the tourist resort Dos Palmas failed to respond quickly to an attack by the Abu Sayyaf14. Future activities by Stingray will have to prove the sceptics wrong29.
The United Nations has recently started publishing an online world atlas of the oceans. On this atlas information will be presented that is gathered from a number of sciences as well as other related information like maritime security and piracy. It may better visualize todays problems and the trends and developments with regard to piracy. The atlas is available at www.oceansatlas.org.
The atlas will be continuously updated to provide the latest data30.
The United States has started installing a computerised surveillance system that will be used by Yemen to monitor its sea and air ports as well as several other strategic areas. Although the Americans are installing it, Yemenis will operate it once it is finished. Despite the fact that the intention of the system is to detect and apprehend terrorists entering and leaving the country. The system can probably also be used to keep track of port operations and possible pirate activity in the area41.
A newspaper article in the New Straits Times reports on a decision by Indonesia and Singapore to increase co-operation in fighting piracy at sea. Despite this new agreement there still is some doubt whether the closer co-operation between these vountries will be effective42.
Success against pirates:
A Belize-registered oil tanker that went missing while sailing from Singapore to Myanmar has been found anchored in the Gulf of Thailand with its cargo and crew missing. Thai navy rescuers found the 2,980-ton Han Wei on Tuesday near Thailand's Sichang Island off the town of Si Racha. Most of the ship's cargo of 10 million litres of diesel fuel had been emptied out. Its 13 crew members are believed to have been found off the western Indonesia region of Aceh after being set overboard in a small boat.
The ship was found after the International Maritime Bureau informed Thai authorities of a tip-off that suggested that the ship was possibly seen in the Gulf of Thailand.
Originally black and white, it had been repainted yellow and blue and was renamed Phae Tan or Phaeton 23-25. A newspaper article in the Bangkok Post reports on the arrest of three men in Ranong who are suspected of being part of the pirate gang who hijacked and robbed the Han Wei. According to the article the arrested men confessed to the hijacking and claimed that they had been assisted by soldiers from Burma. The mastermind is supposed to have been Somchai Saibua, a pirate who is also known as Dam Ranong 26.
A newspaper article in the Daily Trust reports on the apprehension of two suspected pirates by the Nigerian Navy. The two men are suspected of robbing merchant vessels after having come onboard as supposed agents of prostitutes. They have been handed over to the Nigeria Police Force at Apapa, Lagos 27.
A newspaper article from Reuters reports on the outcome of the trial of 6 suspects of the killing of Sir Peter Blake, during a robbery, onboard the Seamaster on 5 December last year. The six pirates received sentences of 26 - 36 years each43.
Weekly piracy report. - International Maritime Bureau. Piracy Reporting Centre:
Weekly piracy report: 2 April 2002 to 8 April 2002. - 2002 April 9. - (Weekly piracy report ; [nr. 122])
Weekly piracy report: 9 April 2002 to 15 April 2002. - 2002 April 16. - (Weekly piracy report ; [nr. 123])
Weekly piracy report: 16 April 2002 to 22 April 2002. - 2002 April 23. - (Weekly piracy report ; [nr. 124])
Weekly piracy report: 23 April 2002 to 29 April 2002. - 2002 April 30. - (Weekly piracy report ; [nr. 125])
Weekly piracy report: 30 April 2002 to 6 May 2002. - 2002 May 7. - (Weekly piracy report ; [nr. 126])
Weekly piracy report: 7 May 2002 to 13 May 2002. - 2002 May 14. - (Weekly piracy report ; [nr. 127])
Weekly piracy report: 14 May 2002 to 20 May 2002. - 2002 May 21. - (Weekly piracy report ; [nr. 128])
Weekly piracy report: 21 May 2002 to 27 May 2002. - 2002 May 28. - (Weekly piracy report ; [nr. 129])
Weekly piracy report: 28 May 2002 to 3 June 2002. - 2002 June 4. - (Weekly piracy report ; [nr. 130])
Weekly piracy report: 4 June 2002 to 10 June 2002. - 2002 June 11. - (Weekly piracy report ; [nr. 131])
Weekly piracy report: 11 June 2002 to 17 June 2002. - 2002 June 18. - (Weekly piracy report ; [nr. 132])
Weekly piracy report: 18 June 2002 to 24 June 2002. - 2002 June 25. - (Weekly piracy report ; [nr. 133])
Weekly piracy report: 25 June 2002 to 1 July 2002. - 2002 July 2. - (Weekly piracy report ; [nr. 134])
Acts reported during January 2002. - London : International Maritime Organization. Maritime Safety
Committee, 2002 January 31. - (Reports on acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships ; MSC.4/Circ.13) 9 p.
Guinea: report on Mano River Union meeting of experts
In: BBC Monitoring Service (2002 March 28) [Newspaper Article]
India signs on as Southeast Asia watchdog / Sudha Ramachandran
In: Asia Times (2002 April 5) [Newspaper Article]
Maritime Security Bulletin - 2 April 2002 / Maritime Security.com
(Email from Maritime Security Mailing list)
Police checking kidnap claim
In: New Straits Times (2002 Apr 19) [Newspaper Article]
Pirates extorting money
In: New Straits Times (2002 Apr 21) [Newspaper Article]
Gijzeling booreiland voor kust Nigeria
In: Spits (2002 Apr 24) Section: Buitenland, P. 8 [Newspaper Article]
Gijzeling Texaco in Nigeria voorbij
In: Spits (2002 Apr 26) Section: Buitenland, p. 6 [Newspaper Article]
Warships providing escort through Straits / Donald Urquhart
In: Shipping Times (2002 Apr 23) [Newspaper Article]
Navies co-operating to fight piracy
In: New Straits Times (2002 Apr 29) [Newspaper Article]
Pirates attack Port Harcourt wharf / Cyril Akpan
In: P.M. News (2002 April 23) [Newspaper article]
Piracy and armed robbery against ships: report for the period 1 January - 31 March 2002 / Piracy Reporting Centre. - London : ICC International Maritime Bureau. Piracy Reporting Centre, 2002 April [?]
Acts reported during February 2002. - London : International Maritime Organization. Maritime Safety
Committee, 2002 February 28. - (Reports on acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships ; MSC.4/Circ.14) 9 p.
Acts reported during March 2002. - London : International Maritime Organization. Maritime Safety
Committee, 2002 March 31. - (Reports on acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships ; MSC.4/Circ.15) 9 p.
Meet to discuss piracy, terror on the high seas
In: The Times of India (2002 May 10) [Newspaper article]
Marine police builds network to curb piracy / Nathaniel Xavier
In: The Star (2002 May 6) [Newspaper article]
Security issues to fore in IMO safety meeting. - London : International Maritime Organization, 2002 May [?]
Legal Committee says ship operator takes key role in security. - London : International Maritime Organization, 2002 May [?]
Navy steps in to combat piracy
In: The Jakarta Post (2002 May 23) [Newspaper article]
Meeting to tackle fishery woes / A. Charoenpo
In: Bangkok Post (2002 May 28) [Newspaper article]
Tourists, never fear; Stingray's here / J. Orendain
In: Philippine Daily Inquirer (2002 May 26) [Newspaper article]
Missing Taiwanese tanker found
In: BBC News online (2002 May 15) [Newspaper article]
Missing oil tanker found
In: Shipping Times (2002 May 16) [Newspaper article]
IMB search leads Thai authorities to hijacked tanker. - London : International
Maritime Bureau, 2002 May 21
Three arrested for hijacking fuel tanker in mid-March / W. Ngarmkham
In: Bangkok Post (2002 May 28) [Newspaper article]
Navy nab fraudsters, pirates / Adelenwa Bamgboye
In: Daily Trust (2002 May 22) [Newspaper article]
Two dredgers leaving Tuas fired at near Singapore / Beth Jinks
In: Shipping Times (2002 May 31) [Newspaper article]
The romaticized local Navy Seals
In: Philippine Daily Inquirer (2002 June 1) [Newspaper article]
UN launches online ocean atlas / Alex Kirby
In: BBC News online (2002 June 4) [Newspaper article]
Pirates kidnap 20 fishermen near Sunderbans
In: Sunnetwork Online News (2002 June 16) [Newspaper article]
Joint operation launched to rescue abducted fishermen
In: The Statesman (2002 June 17) [Newspaper article]
Acts reported during April 2002. - London : International Maritime Organization. Maritime Safety
Committee, 2002 May 9. - (Reports on acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships ; MSC.4/Circ.17) 6 p.
Acts reported during May 2002. - London : International Maritime Organization. Maritime Safety
Committee, 2002 June 10. - (Reports on acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships ; MSC.4/Circ.18) 7 p.
Abu Sayyaf kidnap four Indonesians / Barbara Mae Dacanay, Raffy Jimenez
In: Gulf News (2002 June 19) [Newspaper article]
Abducted Indonesian walks / Julie S. Alipala, Joel B. Escovilla, Martin Marfil, Dona Pazzibugan
In: Philippine Daily Inquirer (2002 June 20) [Newspaper article]
Militants refuse to take custody of abducted seamen / Al Jacinto
In: Gulf News (2002 June 26) [Newspaper article]
Pirates, not Abu Sayyaf, holding 3 Indonesians / Martin P. Marfil
In: Philippine Daily Inquirer (2002 June 25) [Newspaper article]
Indonesians in pirates custody / Raffy Jimenez
In: Gulf News (2002 June 25) [Newspaper article]
US commander offers help to find Indonesians' abductors / Julie S. Alipala, Norman Bordadora, Martin Marfil
In: Philippine Daily Inquirer (2002 June 26) [Newspaper article]
US team installing surveillance system in Aden
In: Shipping Times (2002 June 26) [Newspaper article]
Indon-Singapore decision to combat piracy welcomed
In: New Straits Times (2002 June 29) [Newspaper article]
Brazil court sentences six for Yachtsman's murder / Alberto Alerigi
In: Reuters.com (2002 June 19) [Newspaper article]