International Maritime Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea

There are different names for types of crime at sea, but it can happen anywhere. The first category is armed robbery at sea. That happens within a nation’s territorial sea. The second is piracy, which happens in waters beyond the territorial sea. In recent years, armed robbery and piracy have been most prevalent in Southeast Asia, the Horn of Africa, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Guinea.

U.S. citizens considering travel by sea should always be cautious. This is especially true when near areas with more maritime crime. MARAD recommends that vessels be especially cautious at anchor, in tight spaces, or at slow speeds. U.S. flag vessels that see suspicious activity in the area should report it.

For the most current and accurate information on maritime crime, see:

U.S. flagged operators should also report any hostile or suspicious action to:

  • COMUSNAVCENT Battle-watch captain at +-973-1785-3879
  • U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center Tel:  1-800-424-8802 / 202-267-2675 or TDD:  202-267-4477

Before You Go

Before You Go – Traveler’s Checklist

Get Informed: Read our Worldwide Caution, Country Information, and Alerts and Travel Advisories for all countries that you plan to visit. When traveling by sea, either privately or by commercial shipping, review information from the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre and U. S. Maritime Advisories.

U.S. citizens should maintain a high level of vigilance when abroad, be aware of local events, and take appropriate steps to bolster their personal security. Carry the number of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in case of emergency.

Get Required Documents: Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months while you are traveling and has at least two or more blank pages. If you need a new passport or are renewing, apply several weeks in advance and allow extra time if you need to get visas from other countries before you visit. You may also need a letter from your doctor if you bring prescription medication. Check with the embassy of your destination to for restrictions and documentation.

Get Enrolled: If you are going to live or travel overseas, enroll the details of your trip in our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive important safety and security updates. It will also help us reach you in an emergency. Be sure to keep your contact details in STEP up to date if they change.

Get Insured:  Plan for the unexpected. Make sure you have health insurance that covers you abroad and evacuation insurance in case of emergency.  Consider buying supplemental insurance to cover any gaps.

Last Updated: March 7, 2024