Three More Robberies in Singapore Strait Prompt ReCAAP Action Call

additional boardings and robbery in Singapore Stait
Singapore Strait - Bjoertvedt (CCA4)

Published Nov 9, 2020 3:07 PM by The Maritime Executive

The rash of incidents against ships sailing in the eastbound shipping lane of the Singapore Strait is continuing prompting the regional monitoring center ReCAAP to issue its second incident alert in a week and to increase its calls for action. In a span of approximately six hours, three additional incidents were reported bringing the total to 31 incidents so far this year in the region.  

As with the three incidents ReCAAP reported last week, the three that occurred on November 8 and 9 again were lower level robberies where there was no confrontation between the perpetrators and the crew. The ReCAAP ISC, however, is “concerned with the continued occurrence of incidents in the Singapore Strait. As the perpetrators of all of these incidents are not arrested, there is a possibility of further incidents in the Singapore Strait.”

The latest attacks began during the evening on November 8, when the crew aboard the tanker Zeno sighted three perpetrators in the engine room while underway in the strait. A search determined that the boarders have left the ship. The crew reported equipment, including a sounding rod, an oil sampling rod, a portable breathing apparatus, portable instruments for measuring ullage and a portable spray painter, had all been stolen from the engine room.

About five hours later, two perpetrators were spotted near an engine room locker aboard the bulk carrier Lefkada while it was also underway. A search could not locate the boarders but determined that a lifebuoy had been stolen and an equipment locker was open. Forty minutes after that, a sole individual was sighted aboard the bulk carrier Atlantic Diana also underway in the Singapore Strait. The crew apparently scared the individual away before anything could be stolen.

"Since January 2020, 31 incidents of armed robbery against ships have been reported in the Singapore Strait, of which 27 occurred in the eastbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme,” said Masafumi Kuroki, Executive Director of the ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre. “In addition to asking the shipping community to exercise upmost vigilance, we also urge the littoral states concerned to take enforcement actions to apprehend the perpetrators--without which the spate of incidents is likely to continue. All incidents, however ‘moderate,’ should not be ignored because the lack of arrests can embolden criminals to escalate their crimes."

For all of 2019, the ReCAAP ISC issued five alerts with a total of 31 incidents. Last year’s events were also more evenly split between the two lanes, with 17 westbound and 14 eastbound. This year, ReCAAP has only received one incident report for the westbound lane and three outside the lanes with most of the activity concentrated in the eastbound lane.

In addition to advising ships to increase their precautions and lookout in the area, the ReCAAP ICS is calling for governments to increase enforcement with patrols and information sharing to lead to the arrest of the perpetrators.