Asian Piracy Incidents Increase in the First Quarter

Images courtesy of ReCAAP ISC
Images courtesy of ReCAAP ISC

Published Apr 19, 2020 10:28 PM by The Maritime Executive

ReCAAP ISC reports that there were 29 incidents of armed robbery against ships in Asia during the first quarter of 2020.

This is 19 more than the same time last year. Of the 29 incidents, 16 occurred to ships while at anchor or berth and 13 to ships while underway. 

Eleven of the incidents occurred on board tug boats (38 percent), eight incidents on board tankers (28 percent), six incidents on board bulk carriers (21 percent), three incidents on board container ships (10 percent) and one incident on board a fishing trawler (three percent). This differs from the past 13-year trend of incidents during January-March of 2007-2019 where 33 percent of the incidents occurred on board tankers, 30 percent on board bulk carriers and 18 percent on tug boats/supply vessels.

During January-March 2020, nine incidents reported the loss of ship stores, three incidents reported the loss of cash/property, three incidents reported the loss of engine spares, three incidents reported the loss of unsecured items, eight incidents reported nothing was lost and for three incidents there was no information about the items lost.

An increase of incidents occurred in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and the Singapore Strait. Nine incidents were reported in the Singapore Strait, compared to two during January-March 2019. Three incidents were reported in Bangladesh compared to none during January-March 2019, and six incidents were reported in India compared to none during January-March 2019.

There was improvement at Chinese anchorages, with no incidents reported, compared to three during January-March 2019.

ReCAAP ISC says the abduction of crew remains a serious concern in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah as demonstrated by the occurrence of an incident on January 17 off Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia. Five of the eight crew abducted from the fishing trawler are still held in captivity.

In view of the increase of incidents in the region, ReCAAP ISC reiterates the need for law enforcement agencies to enhance surveillance, increase patrols and respond promptly to incidents reported by ships in order to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators. Ship masters and crew are strongly advised to exercise vigilance, maintain constant lookout for suspicious boats in the vicinity, report all incidents immediately to the nearest coastal State and implement preventive measures recommended in the Regional Guide to Counter Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia.