ReCAAP ISC informs that a total of 23 incidents of armed robbery against ships were reported in Asia during January-March 2022. This accounts for a 35% increase in the total number of incidents compared to the same period in 2021.
#1 Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia
total of 23 incidents of armed robbery against ships were reported in Asia during January-March 2022. No piracy incident was reported during this period. Of the 23 incidents, 22 were actual incidents and one was an attempted incident.
Compared to January-March 2021, the total number of incidents reported during January-March 2022 increased by 35%. A total of 17 incidents were reported during January-March 2021.
Areas of Concern
- Continued increase of incidents in the Singapore Strait: A total of 18 incidents were reported in the SS during January-March 2022. This accounts for 78% of the total number of incidents in Asia (23 incidents). There was an increase of 11 incidents in the SS for the first three months of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021 (seven incidents). More details of the situation in the SS can be found in Part 2 of this report.
- Threat of abduction of crew for ransom in the Sulu-Celebes Seas: Although no incident of abduction of crew was reported in the Sulu-Celebes Seas since January 2020, the threat of abduction of crew in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi remains potentially high, as the ASG is still active and the ASG leaders who were responsible for the past abduction incidents are still at large. The details of the situation in the Sulu-Celebes Seas can be found in Part 3 of this report.
#2 Armed Robbery Against Ships in the Singapore Strait
During January-March 2022, a total of 18 incidents were reported in the Singapore Strait (SS). Of the 18 incidents, 14 incidents occurred in the eastbound lane of the TSS in the SS, two incidents in the precautionary area, one incident in the westbound lane and one incident outside the TSS.
- Of the 18 incidents, 16 incidents occurred to bigger ships (bulk carrier and tanker), one incident occurred on board a barge towed by a tug boat and one incident on board an offshore supply ship towing an oil rig.
- The majority of the incidents involved groups of 2 to 5 men. Six incidents involved groups of 2 men in each incident, four incidents involved groups of 4 men in each incident, three incidents involved groups of 5 men in each incident and two incidents involved groups of three men in each incident.
- Seven of the 18 incidents reported that the perpetrators were armed. Of these, one incident involved the perpetrator carried a gun-like object, five incidents involved perpetrators carried knives, and one incident involved perpetrator carried an axe and metal rod.
- The perpetrators did not harm the crew in 17 of the 18 incidents. In one incident, the perpetrators threatened the crew, pushed him to the floor and tied him in the engine room. The crew managed to free himself, and report the incident to the Chief Engineer. In all the 18 incidents, the crew was not known to have suffered any injuries.
- The perpetrators escaped empty-handed in 12 incidents when they were sighted by the crew. Engine spares and ship property/stores were stolen in the other six incidents.
- Notably, the perpetrators were sighted in the engine room in nine incidents, and engines spares were stolen in three of these incidents.
- Of the 18 incidents, 17 incidents occurred during hours of darkness; and one incident occurred during daylight hours to a tug boat towing barge.
- Keep abreast of the latest situation (at www.recaap.org) particularly the incident-prone areas in the SS. The ReCAAP ISC’s reports indicate detailed locations of incidents with latitude and longitude.
- Tune-in to advisories and navigational broadcasts announced by the authorities.
- Maximise vigilance, lookouts for suspicious small boats and increase watch keeping; particularly for crew on board tug boats towing barges during daylight time, and for crew on board bigger ships during night time.
- Maintain communication with their 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 are sighted on board the ship or barge.
#3 Abduction of Crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and Waters off Eastern Sabah
No abduction of crew incident was reported during January-March 2022. The last known incident occurred on 17 Jan 20 off Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia. No crew is currently being held in captivity by the perpetrators (Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)).
However, the ReCAAP ISC reiterates its advisory issued via ReCAAP ISC Incident Alert dated 21 Nov 16 to all ships to reroute from the area, where possible. Otherwise, ship masters and crew are strongly urged to exercise extra vigilance while transiting the area, and report immediately to the Operation Centres of the Philippines and Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) of Malaysia.
#4 Incidents in Asia using Data Analytics
The characteristics of the incidents reported in Asia during January-March 2022 are as follows:
- Number of perpetrators: 4-6 men (48%) and 1-3 men (48%)
- 56% with no information on the types of weapons carried by the perpetrators, 35% armed with knives/machetes and 9% did not carry weapons
- 96% with no injury to crew
- Stolen items were: ship stores (17%), engine spares (13%) and unsecured items (13%) 48% reported nothing was stolen
- Type of ships boarded: tankers (43%), bulk carriers (43%) and tug boats/supply vessels (14%)
- 91% of incidents occurred during hours of darkness
In addition, 10 of the 23 incidents occurred on board tankers (43%), 10 incidents on board bulk carriers (43%) and three incidents on board tug boats/supply ships (14%).