ReCAAP ISC: 51 Incidents of Piracy and Armed Robbery in Asia from January to June

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(Image Courtesy: IMO)

Number of incidents is almost double compared to the same period in 2019

ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ISC) today released its Half-Yearly Report 2020 (January to June). Highlights of the Report, whose information is verified by the respective government agencies, also known as ReCAAP Focal Points, and regional authorities, are appended:

Overall Situation

§ 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

§ This represents close to a two-fold increase in the total number of incidents and a two-fold increase in the number of actual incidents reported in Asia, compared to 28 incidents (comprising 25 actual incidents and three attempted incidents) during January-June 2019.

§ Of the 51 incidents, 49 were incidents of armed robbery against ships and two were piracy incidents

§ On the other hand, the severity level of incidents has not worsened during January-June 2020 compared to January-June 2019:

o 1 incident of Category 1 (same as in 2019)

o Decrease of Category 2 (from 2 to 1 which is the lowest among the past 14-year period of 2007-2020)

o 74% of incidents were Category 4 (perpetrators not armed, crew not harmed)

Area of Improvement

§ There was improvement at the ports/anchorages in China with no incident 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

Increase of 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.

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

§ The situation of abduction of crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah remains a serious concern as demonstrated by the abduction incident on a fishing trawler on 17 January 2020 off Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia and information of planned kidnapping 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 January 2020 are still held in captivity

§ Shipping companies are advised to follow the ReCAAP ISC’s ‘Guidance’ and maintain communication with the Operation Centres of the Philippines and Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) of Malaysia

“We are deeply concerned with the nearly two-fold increase in the number of incidents reported in Asia in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period last year, even though most of them are at low severity level. ‘Small’ crimes, if not addressed, can embolden criminals to commit more serious acts,” said Mr. Masafumi Kuroki, Executive Director of ReCAAP ISC.

“This spike has come during a time of enormous challenges for the whole world affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic, we encourage the shipping community and maritime enforcement agencies to uphold vigilance, make timely reporting and conduct quick response to incidents, in order to protect the lives of seafarers and the safety of maritime transport.” continued Mr. Masafumi Kuroki.

Sea News, July 16

Baibhav Mishra
Author: Baibhav Mishra