The ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ISC) has released its Half Yearly Report 2023 for the period of January to June.
total of 59 incidents of ARAS were reported in Asia during January-June 2023. No piracy incident was reported during this period. All were actual incidents. There was a 40% increase in the number of incidents reported during January-June 2023 compared to 42 incidents (comprising 40 actual incidents and two attempted incidents) reported during the same period in 2022.
Incidents of January-June 2023 Vs January-June 2022
The total number of incidents reported during January-June 2023 has increased compared to January-June 2022, in the following locations:
- In the Philippines, seven incidents were reported compared to three incidents.
- In the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, 41 incidents were reported compared to 27 incidents.
- In Thailand, one incident was reported compared to no incident.
- In Vietnam, two incidents were reported compared to no incident.
The increase of incidents during January-June 2023 occurred in the Philippines, Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS), Thailand and Vietnam. Of concern was the continued occurrence of incidents in the SOMS, with 41 incidents reported compared to 27 incidents during the same period in 2022. However, there was a decrease of incidents in Bangladesh, India and Indonesia.
There were two areas of concern arising from incidents of piracy and ARAS in Asia during January- June 2023:
- Increase of incidents in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS)
A total of 41 incidents were reported in SOMS during January-June 2023 compared with 27 incidents during the same period in 2022. Of the 41 incidents, three incidents occurred in the Malacca Strait (MS) and 38 incidents in the Singapore Strait (SS). During January-June 2022, all 27 incidents occurred in the SS, and no incident was reported in the MS. More details of the situation in SOMS can be found in Part Two of this report.
- Threat of abduction of crew for ransom in the Sulu-Celebes Seas
No incident of abduction of crew by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was reported in the Sulu-Celebes Seas during January-June 2023. However, due to the presence of the remnants of the ASG in the Sulu and Tawi Tawi area, the threat of abduction of crew for ransom remains. More details of the threat of abduction of crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas can be found in Part Three of this report.
The observations are as follows:
- Majority of the incidents occurred to bigger ships, namely bulk carriers and tankers (32 incidents). The other eight incidents occurred on board tug boats towing barges (eight incidents) and a supply vessel (1 incident).
- Of the 41 incidents, 21 incidents reported groups of 4-6 perpetrators while another 12 incidents involved groups of 1-3 perpetrators. There was one incident that involved 9 perpetrators, two incidents involved 10 perpetrators, and five incidents had no information on the number of perpetrators involved.
- Majority of the incidents (61%) had no information if the perpetrators carried weapons (17 incidents) or the perpetrators were not armed (8 incidents). Of the remaining 16 incidents, the perpetrators carried knives, jungle bolo and other weapons such as adjustable wrench, spanners and a shovel-like weapon. Notably, 10 of the 16 incidents that involved armed perpetrators were reported in the western part of the eastbound lane of the TSS.
- 90% of the incidents reported that the perpetrators did not harm the crew (37 of 41 incidents). In two incidents, the crew were assaulted and resulted in minor injuries. In another two incidents, the perpetrators tied the crew who managed to free themselves and raise alarm.
- The perpetrators were sighted in or in the vicinity of the engine room in 19 incidents, and engine spares were stolen in nine of these incidents. In addition, the perpetrators were sighted in the steering gear room in six incidents, but nothing was stolen in all six incidents.
- Of the 41 incidents, 36 incidents occurred during hours of darkness. The other five incidents that occurred during daylight hours were reported on board tug boats towing barges. Notably, three of the five incidents during daylight hours occurred in the westbound lane of the TSS.
Situation in Sulu-Celebes Seas and Waters Off Eastern Sabah
There was no report of abduction of crew for ransom by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the SuluCelebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah during January-June 2023. The lastincident of abduction of crew occurred on 17 Jan 20. No crew is currently held in captivity by the ASG. With the presence of the remnants of the ASG in the area, the threat of abduction of crew for ransom in Sulu and TawiTawi continues to remain. With the reduction of incidents, the Philippine Coast Guard recommended the downgrading of the threat in Sulu-Celebes Seas from ‘potentially high’ to ‘moderate’ which implies that ‘incidents are possible to occur, but are relatively less severe in nature’.
The total number of incidents of armed robbery against ships in Asia reported during January-June 2023 has increased compared to the same period in 2022.
Of concern was the continued occurrence of incidents in the SOMS which accounts for 69% of the total number of incidents in Asia (41 of 59). While the majority of the incidents (56%) were CAT 4 (where the perpetrators not armed and crew not injured), several attempts in boarding ships on consecutive days demonstrated the boldness of perpetrators in committing crime in the area.