Twenty-One Seafarers Still in Captivity


Published Mar 31, 2017 9:57 PM by The Maritime Executive

ReCAAP ISC has issued Part III of its Abducting of crew from ships in the Sulu-Celebes Sea and waters off Eastern Sabah special report, highlighting that 58 crew had been abducted in the region since March 2016. As of March 31, 2017, 21 are still in captivity.

There were 22 abduction incidents between March 2016 and March 2017, including nine failed attempts. Most of the incidents were claimed by the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.

The attacks appear opportunistic and not targeted against specific nations. The ships attacked were registered in Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Korea, Marshall Islands, Singapore, Norway and Antigua and Barbuda. Of the crew abducted, 27 were Indonesians, 11 were Vietnamese, 10 were Filipinos, nine were Malaysians and one Korean.

Initially, the pirates targeted tug boats towing barges and fishing trawlers. After October 2016, they began attacking larger ships, and their boarding attempts involved firing at the ships:

Pirates fired continuously at the Antigua and Barbuda-registered container ship, Ocean Kingdom on January 3, 2017, and a crewman was injured during a shout-out between pirates and the Malaysian Marine Police on the Indonesia-registered tug boat Henry on April 15, 2016. 

Two crewmen were wounded when shots were fired into their cabin doors when pirates attacked the Vietnam-registered bulk carrier Royal 16 on November 11, 2016. 

One of the crewmen on the Vietnam-registered general cargo ship Giang Hai was shot on February 19, 2017, when he tried to deny the pirates access to the bridge. He later died from his injuries. Of the six  crew abducted, one was reportedly killed by the pirates during transport and his body was thrown overboard.

Most incidents occurred during daylight, indicating that the pirates were apparently unconcerned about being sighted by the crew. 

Part III of the report is available here.