Specifically, as the tug boat towing barge 'Jin Hwa 43' was underway, the master of the tug boat reported to Singapore Vessel Traffic Information System (VTIS) and Singapore Police Coast Guard that some perpetrators were boarding the barge from a few small boats.
The barge was laden with scrap iron. The master later reported that the perpetrators had departed the barge with some scrap iron. The tug boat and barge resumed its voyage to Penang, Malaysia.
The crew was not injured, but some scrap iron was stolen.
After the incident, the master of the tug boat reported the incident to the Singapore Vessel Traffic Information System (VTIS) and Singapore Police Coast Guard.
As the threat of abduction of crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off eastern Sabah remains, ReCAAP ISC maintains its advisory issued via the ReCAAP ISC Incident Alert dated 21 November 2016 to all ships to reroute from the area, where possible.
Otherwise, ship masters and crew are strongly recommended to be extra vigilance while sailing through the area, and report immediately to the Operation Centres of Philippines and Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) of Malaysia.
The ReCAAP ISC also calls ship master and crew to report all incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships to the nearest coastal State and flag State, exercise vigilance and adopt relevant preventive measures taking reference from the Regional Guide to Counter Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia.