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Field Listing :: Maritime threats
This entry describes the threat of piracy, as defined in Article 101, UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), or armed robbery against ships, as defined in Resolution A. 1025 (26) adopted on 2 December 2009 at the 26th Assembly Session of the International Maritime Organization. The entry includes the number of ships on the high seas or in territorial waters that were boarded or attacked by pirates, and the number of crewmen abducted or killed, as compiled by the International Maritime Bureau. Information is also supplied on the geographical range of attacks.
By Country Listing of the values for the Maritime threats field
Country Maritime threats
Atlantic Ocean
West African piracy more than doubled in 2018 totaling 85 attacks, including all of the six ships highjacked during the year; 13 of the 18 vessels fired upon world-wide occurred in West African waters; Nigerian pirates are very aggresive, operating as far as 200 nm offshore and boarded 29 ships in 2018; the Maritime Administration of the US Department of Transportation has issued a Maritime Advisory (2019-010-Gulf of Guinea-Piracy/Armed Robbery/Kidnapping for Ransom) effective 19 July 2019, which states in part "Piracy, armed robbery, and kidnapping for ransom (KFR) continue to serve as significant threats to U.S. flagged vessels transiting or operating in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG). ...According to the Office of Naval Intelligence’s “Weekly Piracy Reports” 72 reported incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea occurred in the GoG region this year as of July 9, 2019. Attacks, kidnappings for ransom (KFR), and boardings to steal valuables from the ships and crews are the most common types of incidents with approximately 75 percent of all incidents taking place off Nigeria. During the first six months of 2019, there were 15 kidnapping and 3 hijackings in the GoG."
Bangladesh
the International Maritime Bureau reports the territorial waters of Bangladesh remain a risk for armed robbery against ships; in 2018, the number of attacks against commercial vessels increased to 12 over the 11 such incidents in 2017
Benin
West African piracy more than doubled in 2018 to become the most dangerous area in the World; the waters off of Benin saw a dramatic increase in 2018 with five attacks reported compared with none in 2017; three ships were boarded, two were hijacked, and 48 crew taken hostage or kidnapped
Djibouti
the International Maritime Bureau reports offshore waters in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden remain a high risk for piracy; the presence of several naval task forces in the Gulf of Aden and additional anti-piracy measures on the part of ship operators, including the use of on-board armed security teams, contributed to the drop in incidents; there was one incident in the Gulf of Aden and none in the Red Sea in 2018; Operation Ocean Shield, the NATO/EUNAVFOR naval task force established in 2009 to combat Somali piracy, concluded its operations in December 2016 as a result of the drop in reported incidents over the last few years; the EU naval mission, Operation ATALANTA, continues its operations in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean through 2020; naval units from Japan, India, and China also operate in conjunction with EU forces; China has established a logistical base in Djibouti to support its deployed naval units in the Horn of Africa
Ecuador
the International Maritime Bureau continues to report the territorial and offshore waters as at risk for piracy and armed robbery against ships; vessels, including commercial shipping and pleasure craft, have been attacked and hijacked both at anchor and while underway; crews have been robbed and stores or cargoes stolen; after several years with no incidents, there has been an increase over the last two years with four attacks reported in 2018
Ghana
West African piracy more than doubled in 2018 to become the most dangerous area in the World; the waters off of Ghana saw a dramatic increase with 10 attacks reported in 2018 compared with only one in 2017; eight ships were boarded, one hijacked, and 47 crew taken hostage or kidnapped
Indian Ocean
the International Maritime Bureau continues to report the territorial waters of littoral states and offshore waters as high risk for piracy and armed robbery against ships, particularly in the Gulf of Aden, along the east coast of Africa, the Bay of Bengal, and the Strait of Malacca; the presence of several naval task forces in the Gulf of Aden and additional anti-piracy measures on the part of ship operators, including the use of on-board armed security teams, have reduced incidents of piracy; in response, Somali-based pirates, using hijacked fishing trawlers as "mother ships" to extend their range, shifted operations as far south as the Mozambique Channel, eastward to the vicinity of the Maldives, and northeastward to the Strait of Hormuz; 2018 saw a slight decrease in attacks over 2017, with one incident in the Gulf of Aden, none in the Red Sea, and two off the coast of Somalia; Operation Ocean Shield, the NATO naval task force established in 2009 to combat Somali piracy, concluded its operations in December 2016 as a result of the drop in reported incidents over the last few years; the EU naval mission, Operation ATALANTA, continues its operations in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean through 2020; naval units from Japan, India, and China also operate in conjunction with EU forces; China has established a logistical base in Djibouti to support its deployed naval units in the Horn of Africa

the Maritime Administration of the US Department of Transportation has issued a Maritime Advisory (2019-012-Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Red Sea-Threats to US and International Shipping from Iran) effective 7 August 2019, which states in part that "heightened military activities and increased political tensions in this region continue to present risk to commercial shipping...there is a continued possibility that Iran and/or its regional proxies could take actions against US and partner interests in the region;" at present, Iran has seized two foreign-flagged tankers in the Persian Gulf; the US and UK navies have established Operation Sentinel to provide escorts for commercial shipping transiting the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Gulf of Oman
Indonesia
the International Maritime Bureau continues to report the territorial and offshore waters in the Strait of Malacca and South China Sea as high risk for piracy and armed robbery against ships; attacks declined for the third year in a row from 43 incidents in 2018 to 36 in 2018 due to aggressive maritime patrolling by regional authorities; in 2018, 29 commercial vessels were boarded and three crew members were taken hostage; hijacked vessels are often disguised and cargo diverted to ports in East Asia
Iran
the Maritime Administration of the US Department of Transportation has issued a Maritime Advisory (2019-012-Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Red Sea-Threats to US and International Shipping from Iran) effective 7 August 2019, which states in part that "heightened military activities and increased political tensions in this region continue to present risk to commercial shipping...there is a continued possibility that Iran and/or its regional proxies could take actions against US and partner interests in the region;" at present, Iran has seized two foreign-flagged tankers in the Persian Gulf; the US and UK navies have established Operation Sentinel to provide escorts for commercial shipping transiting the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Gulf of Oman
Malaysia
the International Maritime Bureau reports that the territorial and offshore waters in the Strait of Malacca and South China Sea remain high risk for piracy and armed robbery against ships; in the past, commercial vessels have been attacked and hijacked both at anchor and while underway; hijacked vessels are often disguised and cargo diverted to ports in East Asia; crews have been murdered or cast adrift; 11 attacks were reported in 2018 including eight ships boarded and seven crew taken hostage
Nigeria
the International Maritime Bureau reports the territorial and offshore waters in the Niger Delta and Gulf of Guinea as very high risk for piracy and armed robbery of ships; in 2018, 48 commercial vessels were boarded or attacked compared with 33 attacks in 2017; in 2018, 29 ships were boarded eight of which were underway, 12 were fired upon, and 78 crew members were abducted; Nigerian pirates have extended the range of their attacks to as far away as Cote d'Ivoire and as far as 170 nm offshore; the Maritime Administration of the US Department of Transportation has issued a Maritime Advisory (2019-010-Gulf of Guinea-Piracy/Armed Robbery/Kidnapping for Ransom) effective 19 July 2019, which states in part "Piracy, armed robbery, and kidnapping for ransom (KFR) continue to serve as significant threats to U.S. flagged vessels transiting or operating in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG). ...According to the Office of Naval Intelligence’s “Weekly Piracy Reports” 72 reported incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea occurred in the GoG region this year as of July 9, 2019. Attacks, kidnappings for ransom (KFR), and boardings to steal valuables from the ships and crews are the most common types of incidents with approximately 75 percent of all incidents taking place off Nigeria. During the first six months of 2019, there were 15 kidnapping and 3 hijackings in the GoG."
Oman
the Maritime Administration of the US Department of Transportation has issued a Maritime Advisory (2019-012-Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Red Sea-Threats to US and International Shipping from Iran) effective 7 August 2019, which states in part that "heightened military activities and increased political tensions in this region continue to present risk to commercial shipping...there is a continued possibility that Iran and/or its regional proxies could take actions against US and partner interests in the region;" at present, Iran has seized two foreign-flagged tankers in the Persian Gulf; the US and UK navies have established Operation Sentinel to provide escorts for commercial shipping transiting the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Gulf of Oman
Pacific Ocean
the International Maritime Bureau reports the territorial waters of littoral states and offshore waters in the South China Sea as high risk for piracy and armed robbery against ships; an emerging threat area lies in the Celebes and Sulu Seas between the Philippines and Malaysia where three crew were kidnapped or taken hostage in 2018; numerous commercial vessels have been attacked and hijacked both at anchor and while underway; hijacked vessels are often disguised and cargoes stolen; crew and passengers are often held for ransom, murdered, or cast adrift
Peru
the International Maritime Bureau reports the territorial waters of Peru are a risk for armed robbery against ships; in 2018, four attacks against commercial vessels were reported, a slight increase from the two reported in 2017; most of these occured in the main port of Callao
Philippines
the International Maritime Bureau reports the territorial and offshore waters in the South China Sea as high risk for piracy and armed robbery against ships; during 2018, 10 attacks were reported in and around the Philippines including six ships that were boarded, one fired upon, and three crewman kidnapped for ransom; an emerging threat area lies in the Celebes and Sulu Seas between the Philippines and Malaysia where it is believed the pirates involved are associated with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) terrorist organization; numerous commercial vessels have been attacked and hijacked both at anchor and while underway; hijacked vessels are often disguised and cargo diverted to ports in East Asia; crews have been murdered or cast adrift
Singapore
the International Maritime Bureau reports the territorial and offshore waters in the South China Sea as high risk for piracy and armed robbery against ships; numerous commercial vessels have been attacked and hijacked both at anchor and while underway; hijacked vessels are often disguised and cargo diverted to ports in East Asia; crews have been murdered or cast adrift; the Singapore Straits saw three attacks against commercial vessels in 2018, a slight decrease from the four attacks in 2017
Somalia
the International Maritime Bureau continues to report the territorial and offshore waters in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean as a region of significant risk for piracy and armed robbery against ships; during 2018, two vessels were attacked compared with five in 2017; Operation Ocean Shield, the NATO naval task force established in 2009 to combat Somali piracy, concluded its operations in December 2016 as a result of the drop in reported incidents over the last few years; additional anti-piracy measures on the part of ship operators, including the use of on-board armed security teams, have reduced piracy incidents in that body of water; Somali pirates tend to be heavily armed with automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades; the use of "mother ships" from which skiffs can be launched to attack vessels allows these pirates to extend the range of their operations hundreds of nautical miles offshore
Tanzania
the International Maritime Bureau reports that shipping in territorial and offshore waters in the Indian Ocean remain at risk for piracy and armed robbery against ships, especially as Somali-based pirates extend their activities south; numerous commercial vessels have been attacked and hijacked both at anchor and while underway; crews have been robbed and stores or cargoes stolen
Venezuela
the International Maritime Bureau continues to report the territorial and offshore waters in the Caribbean Sea as at risk for piracy and armed robbery against ships; numerous vessels, including commercial shipping and pleasure craft, have been attacked and hijacked both at anchor and while underway; crews have been robbed and stores or cargoes stolen; in 2018, 11 attacks were reported which was a slight decrease from the 12 attacks in 2017 making Venezuela the fourth most dangerous area in the World
Vietnam
the International Maritime Bureau reports the territorial and offshore waters in the South China Sea as high risk for piracy and armed robbery against ships; numerous commercial vessels have been attacked and hijacked both at anchor and while underway; hijacked vessels are often disguised and cargo diverted to ports in East Asia; crews have been murdered or cast adrift; the number of reported incidents increased from two in 2017 to four in 2018, primarily near the port of Vung Tau
World

the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reports that 2018 saw an increase in global pirate activities; in 2018, pirates attacked a total of 201 ships worldwide including boarding 143 ships, hijacking six ships, and firing on 18; this activity is an increase from 180 incidents in 2017; in 2018, the number of hostages increased to 141, however, the number of seafarers kidnapped for ransom increased to 83 compared with 75 in 2017, with nearly all taken off West Africa

Operation Ocean Shield, the NATO naval task force established in 2009 to combat Somali piracy, concluded its operations in December 2016 as a result of the drop in reported incidents over the last few years; the EU naval mission, Operation ATALANTA, continues its operations in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean through 2020; naval units from Japan, India, and China also operate in conjunction with EU forces; China has established a logistical base in Djibouti to support its deployed naval units in the Horn of Africa

the Horn of Africa continued to see pirate activities with three incidents in 2018, a slight decrease over 2017; the decrease in successful pirate attacks off the Horn of Africa since the peak in 2007 was due, in part, to anti-piracy operations by international naval forces, the hardening of vessels, and the increased use of armed security teams aboard merchant ships; despite these preventative measures, the assessed risk remains high

West African piracy more than doubled in 2018 to become the most dangerous area in the World with 85 attacks in 2018 compared to 33 in 2017; Nigerian pirates are very aggressive, operating as far as 200 nm offshore and boarding 29 ships in 2018; attacks in South Asian waters remain at low levels with 12 attacks in Bangladesh in 2018 up from 11 in 2017; Peru reported four incidents in 2018, up from 2 in 2017; attacks in Vietnam rose from two in 2017 to four in 2018; the majority of global attacks against shipping have occurred in the offshore waters of five countries - Nigeria, Indonesia, Philippines, Venezuela, and Bangladesh

Yemen
the International Maritime Bureau reports offshore waters in the Gulf of Aden are high risk for piracy; numerous vessels, including commercial shipping and pleasure craft, have been attacked and hijacked both at anchor and while underway; crew, passengers, and cargo have been held for ransom; the presence of several naval task forces in the Gulf of Aden and additional anti-piracy measures on the part of ship operators reduced the incidence of piracy in that body of water; one attack was reported in 2016 while three ships reported being fired upon in 2017