37 incidents of Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia reported to ReCAAP ISC

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(Image Courtesy: ReCAAP ISC)

Number of incidents decreased by 35% compared to the same period in 2020

ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ISC) today released its Half-Yearly Report (January-June 2021). Highlights of the Report are as follows. The information of incidents is verified by the respective government agencies (ReCAAP Focal Points), and regional authorities.

Overall Situation

§  A total of 37 incidents of armed robbery against ships (comprising 35 actual incidents and two attempted incidents) were reported in Asia during January- June 2021. No piracy incident was reported.

§  This represents a 35% decrease in the total number of incidents reported during January-June 2021, compared to the same period in 2020.

§  This was due to the decrease of incidents in several locations in Asia, namely; in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, South China Sea and the Sulu-Celebes Seas.

§  However, there was an increase of incidents in the Singapore Strait. A total of 20 incidents were reported during January-June 2021, compared to 16 incidents reported during the same period in 2020.

The severity level of incidents has reduced during January-June 2021 compared to the same period in 2020:

o   No Category 1 incident was reported.

o   One incident was Category 2 (the lowest number, compared to the same period of 2007-2020)

o   10 incidents were Category 3.

o   24 incidents were Category 4 (perpetrators not armed, crew not harmed). (69% of the total number of actual incidents).

Situation in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and Waters off Eastern Sabah

§  There was no incident of abduction of crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah during January-June 2021. The latest incident was on 17 Jan 2020.

§  The remaining four abducted crew who had been held in captivity by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) since 17 Jan 20 were rescued by the Philippines authorities on 18 Mar 21 and 21 Mar 21. As a result, no crew is currently held in captivity by the ASG.

§  As the ASG leaders responsible for the abduction of crew in the Sulu area are still at large, the threat of abduction of crew from ships remains high, particularly in the areas of Sulu and nearby waters off Tawi-Tawi

§  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.

“We have seen a 35% decrease of incidents during January-June 2021 compared to 57 incidents during the same period in 2020. Continued occurrence of incidents on board ships underway in the Singapore Strait remains a concern. 20 incidents were reported in the Singapore Strait during January-June 2021, which is an increase by 4 incidents compared to the same period of last year. Incidents are likely to continue to occur if the perpetrators are not arrested.” said Mr. Masafumi Kuroki, Executive Director of ReCAAP ISC.

“Although the incidents are decreasing, the ReCAAP ISC encourages all the stakeholders to continue collaborative efforts such as upholding vigilance, making timely reporting by ships and conducting quick response by coastal States in order to ensure maritime safety for the shipping community and safety of the seafarers,” concluded Mr. Masafumi Kuroki.

Sea News, July 16

Baibhav Mishra
Author: Baibhav Mishra

Associate Editor, Sea News