ACCORDING TO the latest report by ReCAAP ISC, a total of 20 incidents were reported in November 2014 in Asia, consistent with October 2014. However, of the 20 incidents, three were attempted cases where boarding was not successfully carried out. The number of incidents has fluctuated throughout the past 12 months with the peak recorded in June 2014 (23) and the bottom recorded in January 2014 (8).
Overall, there has been an improvement in terms of the severity level of incidents reported in November 2014 compared to the past two years. No Category 1 (very significant) incident was reported in November 2014, and the number of Category 2 (moderately significant) incidents had remained fairly consistent throughout the past three years. However, there has been an increase in the number of Category 3 (less significant) incidents in November 2014, ReCAAP continues.
Characteristics of Incidents
Of the 20 incidents reported in November 2014, 11 occurred onboard ships while underway in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore and in the South China Sea. The other incidents occurred onboard ships while anchored/berthed in the South China Sea (4), Cochin and Sandheads anchorages in India (2), Chi??ttagong port, Bangladesh (1), Samarinda anchorage, East Kalimantan, Indonesia (1) and Vung Tau, Vietnam (1).
Situation in the Straits of Malacca & Singapore (SOMS)
A total of 10 incidents were reported in SOMS in November 2014. Of these, four involved tug boat towing barge; and six involved tanker (2), chemical tanker (1), general cargo ship (1), container ship (1) and bulk carrier (1).
Notably, incidents involved tug boats towing barges were relatively more significance in nature. Of the four incidents, three were Category 2 incidents involving robbers who were armed with knives. The robbers tied the master and crew before ransacking the cabins as reported in the incident onboard Winstar Grace, pushed crew overboard into the waters (in the incident onboard Ever Alpha) and involved up to seven robbers who boarded tug boat, SOL 1005. While all three incidents occurred during hours of darkness (between 0230 hrs and 0550 hrs), there was one incident that occurred during daylight hours at about 1640 hrs involving tug boat, Tip Top 1.
The ReCAAP ISC is concerned about the spate of incidents reported in the SOMS and SCS, although most of them were petty theft and less significance in nature. More needs to be done by the crew to stay vigilant as demonstrated in the incident involving Oriental Glory where the perpetrators aborted the att??empt to board when the crew sighted the suspicious boat and undertook the necessary piracy countermeasures. On the part of the enforcement agencies, the littoral States are encouraged to step up surveillance, intensify patrols and respond immediately to reports made by victi??m ship as evidenced in the incident involving tug Tip Top 1 towing barge Tip Top 8 where the robbers fled when the Singapore PCG patrol craft in the vicinity responded to the master‚Äôs call for help.