January-May piracy and robbery incidents on ships in Asia reach highest total in five years

Ocean Leader (Photo: MarineTraffic.com/Capt.Turboboss)

One pirate attack and 10 robbery indicents on ships in Asia occurred in May 2020, the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against ships in Asia (ReCAAP) said in its latest report.

All 11 incidents were actual incidents and have been verified as such by the ReCAAP’s Information Sharing Centre. Two incidents occurred on board ships while at berth, six incidents were on board ships while at anchor, and the remaining three incidents occurred on board ships while underway.

During January to May 2020, a total of 49 incidents (comprising 48 actual incidents and one attempted incident) of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported in Asia. Of the 49 incidents, two were incidents of piracy and 47 were incidents of armed robbery.

Compared to January to May 2019, when 22 actual and three attempted incidents were reported, the total number of incidents reported during January to May 2020 had almost doubled. Further, the number of incidents reported during January to May 2020 was the highest compared to the same period for 2016-2019.

The increase of incidents during January to May 2020 occurred mostly in Bangladesh (four incidents), India (seven), Indonesia (12), the Philippines (five), Vietnam (two), and the Singapore Strait (15). The incidents in the Singapore Strait were all actual incidents on ships while underway and all but three occurred in the eastbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS).

Only one arrest of perpetrators was made in May 2020. This occurred following an attempted robbery incident on May 17 wherein three knife-wielding unidentified men were spotted on board the Singaporean-flagged chemical tanker Ocean Leader (pictured) in Indonesia’s Tanjung Uban Anchorare.

The Indonesian Navy later arrested the three perpetrators and a fourth accomplice. All four later confessed to the attempted theft.

Due to the continued occurrence of incidents in the Singapore Strait, the ReCAAP ISC littoral states to increase patrols and enforcement in their respective waters, strengthen coordination among them, and promote information sharing on incidents and criminal groups involved in order to make more arrests.

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