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Article: IMB 2020 Piracy and Armed Robbery Report shows increase in incidents of crew kidnappings in the Gulf of Guinea

03 February 2021

The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) recently published its 2020 report on Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships. The reports states that in the last year, 195 incidents of piracy and armed robbery were reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC). This figure is higher than the previous year when there were 162 incidents.

Of the 195 incidents reported in 2020, three vessels were hijacked and there were 20 attempted attacks. Meanwhile there were 11 incidents where the vessel was fired upon and 161 vessels boarded.

The rise in the overall number of incidents is attributed to an increase of piracy and kidnap reported within the Gulf of Guinea as well as increased armed robbery activity in the Singapore Straits.

Gulf of Guinea

The region accounted for most of the global kidnapping cases with 130 crew kidnapped out of a total figure of 135 (equivalent to 95% of all kidnapping cases). These occurred as a result of 22 separate incidents of kidnapping. The report notes that incidents in the Gulf of Guinea are particularly dangerous as the majority of perpetrators were armed with guns and there is growing concern as to the ability of pirates to operate further from shore. The IMB say that this demonstrates the pirates’ increased capabilities in the Gulf of Guinea and advises vessels to exercise caution when transiting this region and they should follow the recommendations in BMP West Africa and keep a vigilant lookout at all times.

Singapore Straits

There were 23 attacks reported in this region, an increase of nearly 50% comparted to 2019. In the majority of these attacks, the pirates/armed robbers were able to board the vessels while the vessels were underway. The report suggests that a strict watch should be maintained. Generally the attackers will abort an attempted attack once spotted and the alarm is sounded and the authorities are notified.


The number of incidents reported in Indonesia remained at a consistent level with 26 reported incidents in 2020 against 25 in 2019. The report notes that the majority of the attacks took place whilst vessels were anchored in anchorages while two incidents took place while the vessels were berthed. Vessels are advised to maintain a strict anti-piracy watch when transiting these waters.


There have been no reported incidents since 2019. While the IMB PRC continues to monitor the situation in the region, shipowners and vessels transiting through this area are reminded to remain vigilant and cautious as Somali pirates still have the capability and capacity to carry out attacks.

The full report can be found in the attachment on the right.

For more information, please contact your usual club contact or the authors of this article.​