SE Asian Ports Lead the World for Armed Robbery


Published Jan 11, 2018 1:09 PM by The Maritime Executive

The anchorages at Chittagong, Manila and Pulau Bintan led the world last year for armed robberies, according to the ICC IMB's 2017 annual piracy report. Each of these port regions reported nine incidents last year, much more than other hot spots on the list like Lagos and Cartagena. 

Mariners near Chittagong and nearby Kutubdia Island reported nine attacks last year, less than in years past thanks to efforts by Bangladeshi authorities, but still a category-leading number. IMB reported that robbers near Chittagong usually target ships as they are preparing to anchor, and most attacks are reported at anchorages and on approaches. In general, these robbers were armed and were attempting to make off with ship's stores. 

Together, Indonesia's ports lead the list, with a total of five major locations and 28 total incidents. At Pulau Bintan, at the eastern entrance to the Strait of Singapore, nine attacks were reported last year, and many more likely went unreported. Authorities recommend that ships use a patrolled anchorage off Berakit, to the island's northeast. In general, pirates and robbers at Indonesian ports tend to be armed and to attack at night; they usually retreat when discovered. 

In the Philippines, mariners reported a sudden rise of attacks and robberies at anchorages in Manila and Batangas this year, IMB said. Robbers generally fled when confronted or escaped without being spotted, but in at least one instance, a suspect threatened a crewmember with a long knife. Philippine ports did not figure prominently in the 2016 numbers, though areas south of Mindanao were plagued by a series of hijackings and kidnappings.

To combat robbery at anchor, the IMO recommends carrying out a security assessment prior to arrival, to include the ship's freeboard, speed and cargo; the number of crew available; and any surveillance and detection equipment on board. Early detection of an attack by a vigilant, well-trained crew is the most effective deterrent, IMO advises. 

In addition, all possible points of access must be controlled, and the spread of information about the ship's itinerary and its cargo should be minimized. If a ship is to remain at anchor for a long period of time, the master may wish to consider taking a longer route or remaining offshore in order to reduce the period during which the vessel would be at a risk (subject to charter party agreements on arrival time).