Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Asian Pirate Attacks on Ships Down to Lowest on Recent Record Following Arrests

Annual Report Shows Decline but Concern Over Hotspots
Shipping News Feature
ASIA – The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) has released its annual report which shows a total of 76 reported incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia in 2018, representing a 25% decrease year-on-year, the lowest number since ReCAAP began keeping records in 2007.

Of the 76 incidents during 2018, comprising of 62 actuals incidents and 14 attempted acts, 4 were incidents of piracy, while 72 were armed robbery against ships. There was improvement at some ports and anchorages in 2018, particularly at the Manila anchorage in the Philippines helped by the successful arrests of perpetrators. Arrests were also made in Bangladesh (Chittagong), India (off Alang, Gujarat), Indonesia (Pulau Batam), Malaysia (Pulau Tinggi, Sarawak, and off Tambisan in Sabah).

Additionally, there was no theft of oil cargo in 2018; while there were two incidents of suspicious intent to steal oil cargo reported in June and August 2018, the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), now part of the Ministry of Home Affairs, successfully arrested the mastermind and perpetrators in both incidents. There was also a decrease of incident of abduction of crew for ransom in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah in 2018; 3 incidents (2 actual and 1 attempted) of abduction of crew were reported in 2018 compared to 7 incidents (3 actual and 4 attempted) in 2017.

Whilst there was an overall decrease in the number of attacks, several areas of concern remain, with more than 10 incidents at ports and anchorages in Chittagong, Bangladesh, and in Samarinda, Indonesia. There were also slight increases reported in Malaysia and Vietnam. Despite the decrease in the number of incidents in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah, the abduction of crew for ransom remains a serious threat in the area. Masafumi Kuroki, Executive Director of ReCAAP ISC, said:

“While ReCAAP ISC welcomes the recent downward trend in the number of incidents of piracy and sea robbery in Asia, we urge the law enforcement/regulatory authorities and shipping industry to continue the vigilance and cooperation that has led to the decrease.

“In Asia, more than 90% of the incidents are armed robbery against ships, which occur in territorial waters of the Coastal States. Therefore, the ownership and efforts of the Coastal States in deterring, detecting, and apprehending perpetrators is vital in reducing the number of incidents in Asia, as are the vigilance and preventive measures by ships.”

Photo: MMEA Star Team members and US Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team personnel participate in a tactical boarding training exercise. (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Robert Clowney/Released)