January-July piracy and robbery incidents on ships in Asia jump nearly 50 per cent in 2020

The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against ships in Asia (ReCAAP) has recorded one attempted pirate attack and five actual armed robbery incidents against ships in Asia during the month of July 2020.

Two incidents occurred on board ships while at anchor and four occurred on ships while underway, including three ships in the Singapore Strait.

During January-July 2020, a total of 58 incidents comprising 56 actual incidents and two attempted incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported in Asia. Of the 58 incidents, three were incidents of piracy and 55 were incidents of armed robbery against ships.

Compared to January-July 2019, the total number of incidents reported during January-July 2020 had increased by more than 50 per cent.

A total of 37 incidents comprising 34 actual incidents and three attempted incidents were reported during January-July 2019.

Significance level of July 2020 incidents

Of the five actual incidents reported in July 2020, one was a category 3 incident (i.e. perpetrators armed with bladed weapons and/or blunt objects, crew not harmed, theft of minor items from vessel) and four were category 4 incidents (i.e. unarmed perpetrators, crew not harmed, no items stolen from vessel).

The sole category 3 incident occurred on board an offshore supply vessel while anchored at a jetty at Kakinada, India. The duty crew sighted one perpetrator armed with a knife on board the ship.

The perpetrator opened the generator door and tried to steal generator equipment using a spanner. The duty crew immediately reported the incident to the bridge.

The perpetrator jumped into the water and escaped after his presence was discovered. Nothing was stolen and the crew was not injured.

Of the four category 4 incidents, three incidents occurred on board ships while underway in the Singapore Strait, and one incident occurred on board a containership while anchored in the vicinity of the Manila Bay Quarantine Anchorage Area South Harbour in Manila, Philippines.

Update on situation in the Singapore Strait

At about 00:40 local time on July 2, the Panamanian-flagged reefer vessel Frio Olympic was en route from Singapore to Dalian, China, at approximately 5.8 nautical miles northwest of Tanjung Pergam, Pulau Bintan, Indonesia, in the eastbound lane of the traffic separation scheme (TSS) in the Singapore Strait when an unknown number of perpetrators were sighted on deck. The master raised the alarm and the perpetrators escaped immediately.

The crew conducted a search on board and discovered that four boxes of ship stores were stolen. There was no confrontation between the perpetrators and the crew.

At about 02:15 local time on July 12, the Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier Wolverine was en route to Cam Pha, Vietnam at approximately 6.6 nautical miles northwest of Tanjung Tondang, Pulau Bintan, Indonesia in the eastbound lane of the TSS in the Singapore Strait when three perpetrators were sighted in the engine room store. The alarm was raised and the perpetrators escaped.

All crew were mustered at the navigation bridge. The crew then conducted a search on board and updated the Singapore Vessel Traffic Information System (VTIS) at 02:35 that some engine spare parts were stolen and there was no further sighting of the perpetrators on board.

At about 08:37 local time on July 26, the tug BS Ayres was towing the flat top deck cargo barge BS 27 and was en route to Singapore at approximately 4.4 nautical miles from Tanjung Piai, Johor, Malaysia in the precautionary area in the Singapore Strait when two unknown craft with three perpetrators on each craft were sighted approaching the barge.

Two perpetrators boarded the barge, and left after 20 minutes. Subsequently, the two suspect craft moved away from the location of the incident and were seen heading in a southwestern direction.

The tug and barge resumed their voyage to Singapore. Some batteries were reported stolen from the barge, though the crew was safe and no assistance was required.

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