Piracy and armed robbery incidents in Asia see 17 per cent increase in 2020

Ships in the Singapore Strait (Photo: International Register of Shipping)

A total of 97 incidents of piracy and armed robbery were reported in Asia in 2020, comprising 95 actual incidents and 2 attempted incidents, the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) said in its latest annual report.

This represents an increase of 17 per cent in the total number of incidents and a 32 per cent increase in actual incidents, compared to 2019. The increase of incidents occurred in Bangladesh, India, the Philippines, Vietnam, the South China Sea, and the Singapore Strait.

Of the 97 incidents, 93 were armed robbery against ships, while four were piracy.

The ReCAAP said that, despite the increase of incidents, the severity level of incidents (violence to crew, stolen items) remained moderate. There was one CAT1 (the most severe) incident, while 74 per cent of incidents were CAT4 (perpetrators not armed and crew not harmed).

A total of 34 incidents (compared to 31 in 2019) occurred in the Singapore Strait, of which 30 occurred in eastbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS).

There was one incident of abduction of crew from ships in the Sulu-Celebes Seas in 2020. However, the threat of abduction of crew still remains in the area.

Since March 2016, a total of 86 crew were abducted in the area. As of today, four of them still remain in captivity.

There was some improvement at anchorages in China (no incident in 2020 compared to three in 2019) and Malaysia (three incidents in 2020 compared to eight in 2019). Further, some perpetrators were arrested in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and the Singapore Strait.

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