Sea Robberies on the Rise in Asia

A total of 24 incidents of armed robbery against ships and no piracy incidents were reported in Asia in August 2015, according to the anti-piracy watchdog ReCAAP.

Of the 24 armed robberies, 22 were actual and two were attempted incidents. There were 13 more incidents in August 2015 compared to the same period a year earlier when 8 actual and 3 attempted incidents were recorded.

Overall, a total of 141 incidents were reported over the past eight months (January-August 2015); and this accounted for an increase of 18% compared to the same period in 2014 when 120 incidents had been recorded.

Of the 24 incidents reported in August 2015, 21 of them occurred in Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS) along the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS), one in Batangas Port, Philippines, one in Vung Tau anchorage, Vietnam and one in Kuala Tanjung Centre Jetty, Indonesia. Less than half of the incidents reported in August 2015 were Category 1, 2 and 3 incidents. One was a Category 1 incident involving the siphoning of ship fuel oil from bunker tanker Joaquim in the Malacca Strait on August 9.

On August 21 and 22, within an interval of approximately 28 hours, six incidents were reported to Singapore Port Operation Control Centre (POCC) who issued navigational broadcast to mariners and notification to enforcement agencies to warn about these incidents in the vicinity. Considering the close interval of time and proximity of these incidents, the perpetrators could possibly be from the same group. Of concern was their persistence in ‘hovering’ in the vicinity seeking out their next target, ReCAAP says.

From the description of the incidents reported in August 2015, being vigilant and alert in early detection of a possible boarding is the most effective deterrent, and reduces risk to the crew, ReCAAP says, warning that it is collective effort by all stakeholders at sea and on land to do their part towards eradicating such incidents at sea; including timely deployment of patrol vessels by the relevant littoral states.

It provides the crew an opportunity to sound the alarm, alerting other ships, making immediate report to coastal authorities, and undertaking piracy countermeasures.

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