There have been 148 suspected pirate incidents carried out by Somali pirates in Somalia’s Gulf of Aden, taking the total number of attempted and actual attacks to 100 so far in 2009 with hundreds of crew members still being held hostage, according to the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

The 148 suspected incidents varied in geographical location encompassing the waters off the east and south coast of Somalia, which comprises the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden, Southern Red Sea, Straits of Bab El mandeb and the Arabian Sea.

At present the IMB estimates Somali pirates are holding 11 vessels, including one from 2008, for ransom with 178 crew members as hostages.

The high figures come in spite of an increase in the number of warships patrolling the Gulf of Aden.

According to a report by the IMB, ship’s masters adhering to the recommended advice and deploying effective anti-piracy precautionary measures has resulted in a drop in successful hijackings.

However, the IMB report also warns that attacks are continuing as Somali pirates fire rocket propelled grenade and automatic weapons “indiscriminately” to intimidate crews.

The ICC International Maritime Bureau IMB is a division of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) set up in 1981 to act as a focal point in all types of maritime crime and malpractice.