INCREASING PIRACY AND ARMED ROBBERY AGAINST SHIPS IN ASIA
According to the half yearly report from ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre, a total of 51 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships (comprising 50 actual incidents and one attempted incident) were reported in Asia during January-June 2020 compared to 28 incidents (comprising 25 actual incidents and three attempted incidents) during January-June 2019. This accounts for close to a two-fold increase in the total number of incidents reported during JanuaryJune 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Of the 51 incidents, 49 were incidents of armed robbery against ships and two were piracy incidents. The increase of incidents during January-June 2020 occurred in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, South China Sea and Singapore Strait.
Of concern was the continued increase of incidents on board ships while underway in the Singapore Strait during January-June 2020 with 16 incidents, compared to eight incidents during the same period in 2019. However, there was improvement at the ports/anchorages in China with no incident reported during January-June 2020, compared to three incidents during the same period in 2019. There were also arrests of perpetrators at Chittagong Anchorage in Bangladesh, off Gujarat and Alang in India, off Pulau Batam, Indonesia and in the Singapore Strait.
The situation of abduction of crew in the SuluCelebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah remains a serious concern as demonstrated by the abduction incident on a fishing trawler on 17 Jan 20 off Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia and information of planned kidnapping activities by members of the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sabah and Semporna, Malaysia targeting foreigners and crew of ships passing by the Tawi-Tawi and Sabah waters. Five of the crew abducted from the fishing trawler on 17 Jan are still held in captivity. Shipping companies are advised to follow the ReCAAP ISC’s ‘Guidance on Abduction of Crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and Waters off Eastern Sabah’ and maintain communication with the Operation Centres of the Philippines and Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) of Malaysia.
Of the 51 incidents reported during January-June 2020, 31 incidents (61%) occurred to ships while at anchor/berth and 20 incidents (39%) to ships while underway. This conforms to the past trend where the majority of incidents occurred to ships at anchor/berth.
During January-June 2020, 16 incidents were reported in the Singapore Strait. Of the 16 incidents, 13 incidents occurred in the eastbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS), one incident in the westbound lane of the TSS, one incident just outside (south) of the TSS and one incident in the precautionary area in the Singapore Strait.
(Source: ReCAAP – Image: Star Clipper sailing at dawn in the Strait of Malacca in November 2019/Rene.P/EGN)
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