There was no report of abduction of crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah, Malaysia in August 2020. However, the abduction of crew for ransom remains a serious concern as demonstrated by the Warning issued by the ReCAAP ISC on 2 July 20 that five Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members were planning to conduct abduction of crew from ships passing by the TawiTawi and Sabah waters.
The situation in the Singapore Strait continues to be a concern with the occurrence of 21 incidents during January-August 2020. With these, a total of 21 incidents were reported in the Singapore Strait during January-August 2020 comprising 17 incidents occurred in the eastbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS), two incidents in the precautionary area, one incident in the westbound lane of the TSS and one incident just outside (south) of the TSS.
Key points - August 2020
- In August 2020, six incidents of armed robbery against ships were reported in Asia.
- All incidents were actual incidents; there was no attempted incident.
- Of the six incidents reported in August 2020, three incidents occurred on board ships while at anchor, one incident on board a ship while at berth and two incidents on board ships while underway
- Of the six actual incidents reported in August 2020, two were CAT 2 incidents, two were CAT 3 incidents and two were CAT 4 incidents.
- The two CAT 2 incidents occurred at Batangas, Philippines.
- Of the two CAT 3 incidents, one incident occurred on board a bulk carrier while underway in the Singapore Strait. The other incident occurred on board a chemical tanker while anchored at Dumai Anchorage, Indonesia.
- Of the two CAT 4 incidents, one incident occurred on board a bulk carrier while underway in the Singapore Strait, and the other incident on board a tanker while anchored at Sandakan Inner Anchorage, Sabah, East Malaysia.
Key points - January-August 2020
- During January-August 2020, a total of 65 incidents (comprising 63 actual incidents and two attempted incidents) of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported in Asia.
- Of the 65 incidents, three were incidents of piracy and 62 were incidents of armed robbery against ships.
- Compared to January-August 2019, the total number of incidents reported during January-August 2020 had increased by 38%. A total of 47 incidents (comprising 43 actual incidents and four attempted incidents) were reported during January-August 2019.
- The number of incidents reported during January-August 2020 was the highest compared to the same period of 2016-2019.
- The increase of incidents during January-August 2020 occurred mostly in Bangladesh, India, the Philippines, South China Sea and Singapore Strait.
- Three incidents were reported in Bangladesh during January-August 2020 compared to no incident during January-August 2019.
- Eight incidents were reported in India during January-August 2020 compared to two incidents during the same period in 2019.
- In the Philippines, 10 incidents were reported during January-August 2020 compared to two incidents during January-August 2019;
- In the South China Sea, three incidents were reported during January-August 2020 compared to one incident during the same period in 2019.
Of most concern is the increase of incidents in the Singapore Strait during January-August 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. A total of 21 incidents were reported in the Singapore Strait during January-August 2020 compared to 14 incidents during January-August 2019.
The ReCAAP ISC is also concerned about the occurrence of two incidents involving perpetrators who were armed and violent towards the crew at Batangas, Philippines. An Incident Alert was issued on 25 Aug on these two incidents.
Due to the continued occurrence of incidents in the Singapore Strait, the ReCAAP ISC strongly urges the littoral States to increase patrols and enforcement in their respective waters, strengthen coordination among them and promote information sharing on incidents and criminal groups involved in order to make more arrests.
While transiting the Singapore Strait, ship master and crew are strongly advised to proactively adopt the following measures:
- Maximise alertness of lookouts for suspicious small boats and increase watch keeping on board ships; particularly daylight time for barges and during night time for bigger ships;
- Maintain communication with shipping company by providing periodic updates and establish daily communication checks;
- Report all incidents, suspicious activities and presence of suspicious small boats in the vicinity to the nearest coastal State and flag State;
- Sound alarm when suspicious boats are sighted loitering in the vicinity of the ship or barge or suspicious individuals on board the ship or barge; and
- Keep abreast of the latest situation (at www.recaap.org) and tune-in to advisories and navigational broadcast announced by the authorities.
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