In February 2023, nine incidents of armed robbery against ships (occurred in internal waters, archipelagic waters and territorial seas) were reported in Asia. No incident of piracy (occurred on high seas) was reported. Of the nine incidents, eight incidents were reported in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS), which remains an area of concern. The number of incidents reported in SOMS accounts for 75% (12 of 16 incidents) of the total number of incidents in Asia reported during January-February 2023.
There continues to be no incident of abduction of crew for ransom in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah in February 2023. The last known incident occurred on 17 Jan 20. As the threat of abduction of crew has reduced, the Philippine Coast Guard recommends downgrading the threat from ‘potentially high’ to ‘moderate’ which implies that ‘incidents are possible to occur but are relatively less severe in nature’. The ReCAAP ISC has accordingly updated its Advisory to all ships to consider re-route from the area as an option.
Significance levels of incidents
To provide a qualitative perspective of the incidents, the ReCAAP ISC classifies each actual incident into one of the four categories to determine its significance level (CAT 1 being most severe incident, CAT 2 moderately severe, CAT 3 less severe and CAT 4 least severe). Refer to the Appendix on pages 16-17 of this report on the ‘Methodology in classifying incidents’ for the description of each category. Of the nine actual incidents reported in February 2023, one was a CAT 2 incident, two were CAT 3 incidents and six were CAT 4 incidents.
CAT 2. The CAT 2 incident occurred on board a bulk carrier while underway off Pulau Cula (Indonesia), in the eastbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) in the Singapore Strait (SS). Nine perpetrators armed with long knives were sighted in the engine room. The duty oiler was tied but later managed to escape and raised the alarm. The perpetrators escaped after the alarm was raised. A search on board the ship was conducted, and reported some auxiliary engine parts were stolen.
CAT 3. The two CAT 3 incidents occurred on board bulk carriers while underway in the precautionary area of the TSS in the SS. The incidents occurred off Nongsa Point, Pulau Batam (Indonesia) and off Pulau Karimun Kecil (Indonesia). The incidents involved perpetrators who were armed with knives. In one of the incidents, the perpetrators were sighted in the vicinity of the engine room by the motorman and 3rd engineer. The crew sustained minor injuries when the perpetrators threw spanners at them. The perpetrators escaped with some scrap items. In the other incident, the perpetrators were sighted in the engine room. The alarm was raised and the perpetrators escaped. The crew was not injured and nothing was stolen.
CAT 4. Of the six CAT 4 incidents, one incident occurred on board a ship while anchored at Panjang Anchorage, Indonesia and five incidents on board ships while underway in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS). Of the five incidents in the SOMS, four incidents occurred in the Singapore Strait and one incident in the Malacca Strait. Some auxiliary engine spares were stolen in one incident, scrap metals stolen in two incidents and nothing was stolen in the other two incidents. The crew was not injured in all six incidents.
A total of eight incidents of armed robbery against ships were reported in SOMS in February 2023. All were actual incidents. Of the eight incidents, seven incidents occurred in the SS and one incident in the MS.
There was no report of incident of abduction of crew for ransom in February 2023. The last known incident occurred on 17 Jan 20 off Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia. No crew is currently being held in captivity by the ASG. The Philippines, Malaysian and Indonesian authorities continued to maintain surveillance and military operations to neutralise the ASG.
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