The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) has issued its report for February, with 13 incidents reported, of which 11 were robberies against ships and two piracy.
ReCAAP uses its own categorisation system for incident reports, and logged six of February’s incidents as Category 2 (moderately significant), two as Category 3 (less significant) and five as petty theft of ship’s stores, etc.
Of the incidents occurring in February, eight took place at ports and anchorages, which comes as no surprise. The gangs operating in this region are organised but opportunist, and ship’s stores thefts, robberies from barges and the occasional ship boarding with armed robbery generally make up the bulk of maritime crime in Asia these days.
Of the incidents on board vessels underway, ReCAAP states:
Five incidents were reported onboard ships while underway. Of these, two incidents of piracy were reported in the Bay of Bengal involving tug boat, SG Victory towing a scrap vessel, MV Chan at approximately 26.45 nm southwest of Elephant Point, Bangladesh. On 20 Feb 14, five fishing boats approached the scrap vessel and unloaded items including paints and cables from the scrap vessel onto their boats. On the next day, several fishing boats again came alongside MV Chan. The master reported the incident to the Bangladesh Coast Guard who deployed a speed boat to the location and arrested nine robbers and recovered the stolen items.
The situation in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore has remained relatively quiet throughout January 2014, until February 2014 when three incidents were reported on 6 Feb 14 (with two incidents occurred within an interval of an hour on the same day) and 23 Feb 14. On 6 Feb 14 at or about 0620 hrs, five robbers armed with machetes boarded general cargo ship, Kota Berkat. The duty greaser spotted five robbers in the engine room workshop and reported to the bridge. The master raised the alarm and mustered all crew immediately. The robbers escaped empty-handed. At or about 0700 hrs on the same day, two robbers boarded another general cargo ship, Kota Intan at approximately 7.83 nm southwest of the earlier incident occurred onboard Kota Berkat. The robbers boarded Kota Intan via the stern, held the crew in captivity, stole some engine spare parts and the crew’s mobile phone. The third incident occurred on 23 Feb 14 onboard barge, Smooth 1 towed by tug boat, Juara when 20 men boarded the barge from four boats and escaped with some scrap metal. The crew was not injured in all incidents.
In 2013, tug boats towing barges accounted for 75% of the incidents reported in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. In February 2014, two of the three incidents involved general cargo ships. The ReCAAP ISC will monitor closely the situation in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore and encourages enhanced cooperation and coordinated patrols and surveillance among littoral States in the region.
Issues with port security clearly remain in Asia, and ship owners would be advised to stop duty crew from making routine rounds obvious; any breaking up of rounds patterns is likely to see potential criminals move onto ship’s where they can see easier opportunities.
To download the report, please click here.