The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) released its Half-Year Report (Jan – Jun) of 2023 on Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia. The key highlights of the report are:
Overall Situation:
• No incident of piracy (on high seas) in Asia and abduction of crew for ransom in Sulu-Celebes Seas for the third consecutive year since 2020.
• A total of 59 actual1 incidents of armed robbery against ships (in internal, waters, territorial seas, and archipelagic waters under coastal States jurisdiction) were reported. This represents a 40% increase compared to 42 incidents in the first half of 2022.
• The nature of the incidents is generally opportunistic and of lesser severity, committed by perpetrators who are non-confrontational and adopting a ‘hit-andrun’ approach. In most incidents, the criminals board ships that are ill-prepared, have low freeboard, and manoeuvre at slow speed in restricted areas of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS). The most commonly stolen items are ship stores, scrap metal and machinery spares.
• Of the 59 incidents reported, of the three incidents (CAT 2), two cases involved crew suffering minor injury. In 16 of the incidents (CAT 3), the crew was not injured, perpetrators used knives to remove unsecured items. For the remaining 40 incidents (CAT 4), perpetrators were not armed and the crew was not injured, and nothing was taken in 12 incidents.
Area of Concern – Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS):
• The SOMS continues to be an area of concern, with 41 incidents reported during Jan – Jun 2023 compared to 27 incidents during the same period in 2022.
• Of the 41 incidents reported in the SOMS, o 38 incidents occurred in the Singapore Strait (SS), a 41% increase compared to 27 incidents in the first half of 2022. o Three incidents occurred in the Malacca Strait compared to no incident in the first half of 2022. ? 61% of the incidents in the SS belong to CAT 4 (least severe).
• In 42% of the incidents in the SS, nothing was stolen or losses cannot be ascertained. Items like engine spares, ships store and unsecured items were taken in the remaining 58% of incidents.
• Approximately two thirds of the ships boarded in the SS were bulk carriers while underway/sailing.
• 87% of incidents occurred during hours of darkness between 1800 to 0559 hrs.
(Source: ReCAAP – Image: Entering the Strait of Malacca from Singapore/Rne B./energy global news)