Vessel and Crew Missing
The Malaysian-flagged general cargo ship Sah Lian has been missing in the South China Sea since Saturday, September 5. The vessel left Kuching on September 2 and was transporting 500 tons of general cargo. It was reported missing when it did not arrive at the Port of Limbang on schedule Saturday. The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has launched a search for the vessel and its 14 crewmembers.
The Sah Lian’s owner was last in contact with the ship’s captain on September 3.
While it is too early to link the missing vessel to piracy, the South China Sea has experienced a marked increase in piracy and robbery this year. In July, the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) said that incidents of piracy and armed robbery had risen 18 percent in the first half of 2015 compared to the same time period in 2014. There were 106 incidents reported between January and June 2015 and just 90 last year.
The rise in Southeast Asian piracy has prompted the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to establish a permanent security presence. Last weekend, pirates attacked six vessels in the Malacca and Singapore straits. Authorities believe the same group was involved in each incident.
In August, Malaysia and Indonesia formed a joint rapid deployment team to respond to the increasing number of incidents in the region. Southeast Asia has become a hotbed of maritime piracy in the past year.