IN a rare case of coincidence, both IMB and ReCAAP ISC release their half-yearly reports on Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships both globally and in the Asia region. Along the figures for Asia are comparative, it is interesting to note the variance in incidents reported by the reporting authorities, which demonstrates the difficulty and, at times, lack of transparency in reports made to them both.
ReCAAP ISC reports that there has been a 18% increase in number of incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships reported in Asia during January-June 2015 compared to the same period in 2014.
The bulk of the increase was due to the increase in the number of petty theft cases onboard ships while underway in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS).
During January-June 2015, a total of 106 incidents were reported in Asia, comprising 100 actual incidents and six attempted incidents. Of the 106 incidents, 11 were piracy incidents occurred in the South China Sea (SCS) and 95 were incidents of armed robbery against ships. Amongst these, the number of petty theft incidents was highest during January-June 2015. Of the 62 incidents of petty theft, 35 (56%) occurred onboard ships while underway in the eastbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) of SOMS and 12 (19%) onboard ships at ports and anchorages in Vietnam. A key area of concern are incidents involving siphoning of ship fuel/oil from product/oil tankers, most of them below 5000 GT.
A total of eight incidents of siphoning were reported during January-June 2015 compared to five incidents reported during the same period in 2014. However, the collective efforts by enforcement agencies, relevant International Organisations and shipping industry had produced results, as demonstrated from the arrest of the perpetrators involved in the hijacking of chemical tanker, Sun Birdie on 29 Jan 15 and product tanker, Orkim Harmony on 11 Jun 15.
These outcomes were encouraging and demonstrated the effectiveness of the cooperative mechanism in information sharing and operational cooperation among ReCAAP Focal Points, regional maritime authorities from Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia, INTERPOL and the ReCAAP ISC. Except for petty theft and siphoning (Category 1) incidents, the other type of incidents (Category 2 and Category 3) reported during January-June 2015 had decreased compared to the same period in the past four years.
Number of Perpetrators
Majority of the incidents involved perpetrators operating in groups of 1 to 6 men. This accounts for 63% of the incidents reported during January-June 2015. Two incidents involved more than 9 men, and both were incidents involving siphoning of ship fuel/oil that occurred in the SCS; and they were Dongfang Glory which was boarded by 25 perpetrators on 1 Apr 15, and Orkim Harmony boarded by 13 perpetrators on 11 Jun 15.
Littoral States need to do more, including expanding and strengthening existing co-ordinated counter-piracy patrols in SOMS and exploring the possibilities of enhancing their involvements in the strait by strengthening its respective patrolling/presence. In this regard, the engagement of littoral States’ navies are highly welcome.
Download the ReCAAP ISC Full Report Here.
A new report from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB) highlights a continuing trend in South East Asia in the hijacking of small coastal tankers by maritime pirates, averaging one attack every two weeks – ICC IMB.
According to the report, five small tankers were hijacked in South East Asian waters in the second quarter of 2015 alone, bringing the total number of vessels hijacked globally in 2015 to 13.
IMB has stressed however that enhanced cooperation between regional authorities is paying off and that early detection of approaching skiffs has resulted in attacks being aborted.
IMB highlighted the tracking and arrest off Vietnam of an eight-man Indonesian gang responsible for the hijacking of a Malaysian tanker last month. IMB also praised the Malaysian authorities for the June conviction of nine Indonesian pirates, apprehended after the January hijacking of an anchored product tanker off Johor.
Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB said: “Information sharing and coordinated action between concerned coastal states is crucial in responding to this threat. We commend the effort that caught one gang and also the hefty custodial sentences imposed on another which will help deter further incidents.”
The latest global report reveals that a total of 134 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) in the first six months of 2015; an increase on the 116 reports for the corresponding period in 2014.
Pirates managed to board 106 vessels and were responsible for 13 hijackings and 15 attempted attacks worldwide. So far in 2015, 250 crew members have been taken hostage, 14 assaulted, 10 kidnapped, 9 injured and one killed.
According to the latest statistics, while more than a third of incidents reported to the PRC took place off the coast of Indonesia, the majority of these related to low-level, opportunistic thefts from vessels.
The IMB report notes a significant increase in the number of incidents off Bangladesh and Chittagong in particular, with 10 reports made in the second quarter of 2015 compared with only one in the first quarter. Again, these attacks related to armed robberies from vessels.
Off Nigeria, 11 incidents were reported in the first half of 2015 though no incidents were reported in the month of June. However, 10 crew kidnappings in three separate events were reported in and around Nigerian waters.
Encouragingly, in the second quarter of 2015, no reports were received off the coast of Somalia.
Although no attacks have been reported off Somalia, IMB advises that the security situation in the Horn of Africa remains uncertain. IMB urges ship masters to remain vigilant when transiting these waters and to adhere to the industry’s Best Management Practice.
See the IMB Report Slideshow HERE
To request a PDF version of the IMB report by email, please click here.
Whilst the overall increase in piracy and robbery at sea is noted by both authorities, and as confirmed by our data, it is clear that enhanced cooperation and information sharing is vital to enable timely response to any incident as demonstrated in the Sun Birdie and Orkim Harmony cases in Asia. However, it should be emphasised that greater collaboration, not only between regional navies, but also reporting centres, authorities and coast guard authorities to provide comprehensive statistics in support of law enforcement activities. 250 seafarers held hostage so far this year would fully endorse such measures.
Re-used with the kind permission of OCEANUSLive.org