The number of piracy incidents in Asia has dropped in the first quarter this year, compared to the same period in 2016, and ReCAAP ISC praises the swift action of crews and responding military forces.
For the first three months of this year, there were 15 incidents of piracy and armed robbery and five attempts, compared to the 17 incidents during the same period in 2016.
ReCAAP ISC says the drop in the number of incidents is an indication of successful efforts by crew in deterring boarding by pirates. For example, on March 5, general cargo ship, Phu An 268 carrying 2,700 tons of rice departed My Thoi port, Vietnam, for Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia. At about 1600 hrs, a skiff with six pirates on board approached and followed her for around 1.5 hours.
The master and the crew raised the alarm, increased speed and activated the water hose to prevent the pirates from boarding. The master informed the Malaysian authorities immediately, and in response, the Malaysian Royal Navy deployed vessels immediately to the location of the incident to provide assistance and escort Phu An 268 safely to Sandakan port.
In another case, on February 22 at 1345hrs, bulk carrier Donghae Star was underway in the vicinity of about 37.8 nautical miles northwest of Littoral Monitoring Station Bongao, Tawi-Tawi when the ship sighted three fast boats painted in black with five perpetrators on board wearing black clothes. The boats were chasing after the ship at a speed of about 20.5 knots.
Immediately, the crew contacted the Philippine Navy by radio. The Navy deployed patrol vessels to the location, and at about 1502 hrs, the three speed boats slowed down and stopped their chase. The Navy vessels continued to patrol the area and alerted other commercial ships in the area.
Incidents Underway and at Anchorage
Of the 20 incidents reported during January-March 2017, eight incidents occurred on board ships while underway, and 12 incidents occurred on board ships while at anchor/berth.
One incident involved the death of two crew and abduction of five crew for ransom (Giang Hai), two incidents involved the abduction of crew (Fishing Banca and Super Shuttle Tug 1), and one incident reported the threatening of crew by the pirates who sighted them (Silver Express). The remaining 11 incidents reported that the crew was not hurt or there was no information available on the condition of the crew.
Nine incidents reported the loss of ship stores and equipment, such as mooring rope, paint, portable welding machine, electric drill, electric hacksaw, fire hydrant caps and forecastle bell. All these incidents occurred on board ships while at ports and anchorages.
The rate of attacks improved at ports and anchorages in Asia, particularly India. One incident was reported in India during January-March 2017 compared to 10 incidents reported there during the same period in 2016. However, four incidents were reported in Bangladesh compared to zero incidents during the same period in 2016.
The continued occurrence of incidents involving the abduction of crew from ships while underway in the Sulu Celebes Sea and waters off Eastern Sabah, East Malaysia continues to be a concern. During January-March 2017, six incidents including three abduction incidents and three attempted incidents were reported to the ReCAAP ISC by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
Two abducted crew members from Super Shuttle Tug 1 and five abducted crew of Serudong 3 were rescued by local Philippine agencies. At the end of March, 58 crew had been abducted over the past year, 37 were released and 21 remain in captivity.
The ReCAAP ISC reiterates its advice that all ships re-route from the area, where possible. The ReCAAP ISC also emphasized the importance of collective and shared responsibility among all stakeholders including the littoral States’ enforcement agencies and the shipping industry. More needs to be done to strengthen regional cooperation and coordination among the littoral States in conducting coordinated patrols, maintaining stringent enforcement and apprehending the perpetrators, says the agency.
The report is available here.