According to ReCAAP ISC, a total of 84 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships (80 actual and four attempted incidents) were reported in Asia in the year 2022.
Summary of analytics of incidents
- Majority of the incidents were CAT 4 (52%)
- Number of perpetrators: 4-6 men (33%), 1-3 men (27%)
- 58% that perpetrators did not carry weapons or no information on the weapons carried, 32% armed with knives, machetes and other weapons, 10% armed with guns and knives
- 80% reported crew not ‘confronted’ by perpetrators or no report on ‘crew treatment’
- 63% reported loss of items, 33% nothing was lost, 4% losses cannot be ascertained Ship stores were mostly stolen
- Type of ships boarded: tankers (35%), bulk carriers (29%), tug boats/supply vessels (15%)
- 81% of incidents occurred during hours of darkness
This accounts for a 2% increase in the total number of incidents compared to the year 2021. In 2021, 82 incidents (77 actual and five attempted incidents) were reported. Of the 84 incidents reported in 2022, 83 incidents were armed robbery/ petty theft of opportunistic nature and one incident of piracy involving a fishing vessel in South China Sea.
The increase of incidents in 2022 occurred in the Singapore Strait, Bangladesh, Malaysia and South China Sea; and the number of incidents remain the same in India and Vietnam. However, there was a decrease of incidents in other locations in Asia; namely, Indonesia, the Philippines and the Sulu-Celebes Seas.
The two areas of concern in 2022 were:
- Increase of incidents in the Singapore Strait. A total of 55 incidents occurred on board ships while underway in the Singapore Strait in 2022 compared to 49 incidents in 2021. Most of the incidents were petty theft and involved perpetrators who escaped immediately upon sighted by the crew. The perpetrators were not armed and crew not injured. However, as the perpetrators are not arrested, incidents can continue to occur.
- Threat of abduction of crew for ransom in the Sulu-Celebes Seas. There continues to be no abduction of crew for ransom in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah in 2022. The last known incident occurred on 17 Jan 20. However, due to the presence of the remnants of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the area, the threat of abduction of crew for ransom in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi still remains.
The total number of incidents reported in 2022 though has increased compared to 2021, there were decreases in the number of incidents in several locations in Asia. The increase of incidents occurred in the following locations:
- In the Singapore Strait (SS), 55 incidents were reported in 2022 compared to 49 incidents in 2021.
- In Bangladesh, five incidents were reported in 2022 compared to no incident in 2021.
- In Malaysia, two incidents were reported in 2022 compared to one incident in 2021.
- In South China Sea, one incident was reported in 2022 compared to no incident in 2021.
The number of incidents remains the same in 2022 and 2021 for India (five incidents) and Vietnam (two incidents). The ReCAAP ISC commends the efforts of coastal States concerned to have produced positive results in bringing down the number of incidents. The decrease of incidents in 2022 compared to 2021 occurred in the following locations:
- In the Philippines, four incidents were reported in 2022 compared to 11 incidents in 2021.
- In Indonesia, 10 incidents were reported in 2022 compared to 13 incidents in 2021.
Increase of incidents in Singapore Strait
A total of 55 incidents were reported in the SS in 2022. This accounts for 65% (55 of 84 incidents) of the total number of incidents in Asia. Compared to 2021, there was an increase of six incidents in the SS for the same period in 2022.
Threat of abduction of crew for ransom in Sulu-Celebes Seas
No incident of abduction of crew by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was reported in the Sulu-Celebes Seas in 2022. The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has downgraded the threat assessment of abduction of crew in the area from ‘potentially high’ to ‘moderate’. However, due to the presence of the remnants of the ASG in the area, the threat of abduction of crew for ransom in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi still remains.
Piracy vs Armed Robbery Against Ships
Of the 84 incidents reported in 2022, one was a piracy incident involving a fishing vessel in South China Sea and 83 were armed robbery/petty theft. Piracy takes place on the high seas under universal jurisdiction while armed robbery/petty theft takes place in internal waters, archipelagic waters and territorial seas which are under the jurisdiction of the coastal States.
The majority of the incidents reported in Asia are armed robbery/petty theft. Over the 16-year period of 2007-2022, the number of piracy incidents fluctuated each year, with an average of 11% for piracy incidents and 89% for armed robbery against ships.
Significance Level of Incidents
The 80 actual incidents reported in 2022 were: four CAT 25, 21 CAT 36 and 55 CAT 47 incidents. Similar to 2021, no CAT 18 incident was reported in 2022. The last CAT 1 incident was reported in 2020, involved the abduction of crew for ransom off Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia.
- CAT 2: Of the four CAT 2 incidents, three occurred on board bulk carriers while underway in the eastbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) in the SS, and one occurred on board a fishing vessel in the South China Sea (SCS).
- CAT 3: Of the 21 CAT 3 incidents, 15 incidents occurred in the SS, four incidents in Indonesia, one incident in Bangladesh and one incident in India.
- CAT 4: As with past trend observed in Asia, majority of the incidents reported in 2022 were CAT 4 incidents. This accounts for 69% of the number of actual
- incidents (55 of 80) reported in 2022.
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