The situation of piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia for the month of November 2017 showed an improvement, that is what the latest Monthly Piracy And Armed Robbery Against Ships In Asia report of the ReCAAP Information Sharing Center (ISC) has shown.
In total, the ISC states that the number of incidents during January-November 2017 is the lowest among the 10-year reporting period of January-November 2008-2017.
It also provided concern towards the occurrence of the hijacking of tug boat, Ever Prosper towing barge, Ever Omega for the theft of the oil cargo on board.
The ReCAAP ISC noted however that there was an increase in the number of incidents reported on board ships anchored in the South China Sea (SCS).
During the period of January-November 2017, nine incidents were reported in SCS compared to five incidents reported there during the same period in 2016.
Specifically, a total of nine incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported in November 2017 with seven of these being actual incidents and two were attempted incidents.
Of the nine incidents, four were piracy incidents and five were armed robberies against ships while there was no actual or attempted incident involving the abduction of crew from ships reported in the Sulu-Celebes Sea and waters off Eastern Sabah in November 2017.
However, the ReCAAP ISC noted that there was an increase in the number of incidents reported at ports and anchorages in Bangladesh (Chittagong), Philippines (Manila and Batangas), and on ships while underway in the South China Sea (SCS) and Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS) compared to the same period in 2016.
According to the ReCAAP ISC, of the seven actual incidents reported in November 2017, one was a CAT 1 incident, three were CAT 3 incidents and three were CAT 4 incidents.
Specifically, the CAT 1 incident involved the hijacking of barge, Ever Omega, which was towed by tug boat, Ever Prosper on November 22 off Singkawang, Indonesia.
Although the barge was eventually recovered, her cargo of Crude Palm Kernel Oil (CPKO) was missing. Fortunately, no incident of abduction of crew was reported in November 2017 since the last attempted incident that was reported in April 2017.
On the other hand, the three CAT 3 incidents occurred on board ships anchored at Bangladesh (1), Indonesia (1) and in the SCS (1); and the three CAT 4 incidents occurred on board ships anchored in India (1) and in the SCS (2).
The ReCAAP ISC noted that there has been an increase in the number of incidents reported on board ships while anchored in the South China Sea in November 2017.
A total of four incidents were reported in November 2017 with three actual incidents and one attempted incident.
Furthermore, it stated that all four incidents occurred in close proximity to each other; and occurred when the ships were anchored in the SCS.
According to the ReCAAP ISC, it is believed that these ships anchored outside the port limit areas in the SCS to avoid paying port dues.
On the situation of abduction of crew from ships while underway in the Sulu-Celebes Sea and Waters Off Eastern Sabah (January-November 2017), The ReCAAP Focal Point (Philippines) reported to the ReCAAP ISC that on November 10, the Philippine troops, during a military operation in Kang Tipayan Island, Languyan, Tawi-tawi rescued four crew of Giang Hai.
Unfortunately, one of the crew was found dead. Giang Hai, a Vietnam-registered bulk carrier was boarded on February 19, at about 35 nautical miles west of Doc Can Island in Sulu, Philippines by an unknown number of armed men who abducted six of its crew who are all Vietnamese nationals.
One crew was killed while underway, and on July 7, the Philippine troops recovered the cadaver of another crew.
There was no report of incident involving the abduction of crew from ships while underway in the Sulu-Celebes Sea in November 2017.
The last actual incident reported to the ReCAAP ISC occurred on board Super Shuttle Tug 1 on March 23, and the last attempted incident occurred on board Doña Annabel on April 18.
In light of this, the ReCAAP ISC advises all ships transiting the areas of concern to exercise enhanced vigilance during hours of darkness, maintain strict look-out for suspicious approach by boats; and report all incidents to the nearest coastal State and flag State immediately.
The ReCAAP ISC reiterates the need for collective efforts and shared responsibility among ReCAAP Focal Points, regional authorities and the shipping industry in addressing the situation of piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia.