ReCAAP: Asian Piracy at Lowest Level in Four Years

Indonesian Navy anti-piracy drill (file image)

By MarEx 2016-06-09 12:50:12

ReCAAP had good news for maritime security in its May report released Wednesday: only eight incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported in Asia for the month, down 65 percent from May last year. For the year to date, only 38 incidents were reported – the lowest count for January to May since 2011 and down by half over the same period in 2015, when 87 total incidents were recorded.

Image courtesy ReCAAP

Only one hijacking and attempted cargo theft occurred in the region for the month, the boarding of the product tanker Hai Soon 12 – the first tanker hijacking in Southeast Asia since August – and it was quickly thwarted. Her operator's shoreside officials informed ReCAAP ISC via mobile app that the Hai Soon had deviated from her intended course and changed her AIS reporting name. ReCAAP informed Indonesian authorities, and navy vessels tracked down the Hai Soon and sent boarding teams aboard; they captured nine attackers without harm to cargo or crew. The pirates allegedly intended to sell the vessel's 50,000 gallons of MGO on the black market. 

The Hai Soon hijacking was the only incident classified as Category One, the most serious type; only one other serious attack occurred, a boarding and armed robbery at an anchorage in Indonesia. Four men with knives came aboard an unnamed bulk carrier at Samarinda anchorage off East Kalimantan, tied up the crew and stole stores. The other six reported incidents were minor thefts of ship stores without violence or weaponry, all at ports and harbors. 

A spate of tug crew kidnappings off Sabah, Malaysia attributed to Islamist militants appears to have tailed off in May as authorities from the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia cooperated on joint maritime security measures. All tug crewmembers have since been ransomed or released. 

In the Gulf of Guinea, the world's other maritime security hot spot, piracy activity continues: on Monday, the Maritime Trade Information Sharing Center-Gulf of Guinea reported a suspected pirate approach on an unnamed merchant tanker. A 180-foot mother vessel with two skiffs pursued the tanker, which initiated evasive maneuvers and defensive measures. The suspected pirates stopped the approach and departed. So far this year, multiple offshore supply vessels and tankers have been attacked off the Niger Delta, with several successful kidnappings and hijackings; analysts suggest that pirates in the region are switching to kidnapping as oil theft is becoming less profitable.