Anti-piracy Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) has proposed for an extension of naval and coast guard patrols in response to the sharp rise of piracy and sea robbery incidents.
Singapore-headquartered ReCAAP was referring to the patrol routes from the Malacca Strait into the South China Sea.
In 2014, a total of 183 incidents were reported, a 22% increase from the 150 incidents reported in 2013. Out of these incidents, 168 cases were classified as actual incidents, while 15 were attempted incidents.
Lee reiterated the needs for sustained co-ordinated efforts by the littoral states in South China Sea, Strait of Malacca and Singapore to commit naval assets for patrols to deter piracy and sea robbery incidents.
Despite the high incidents figures, Lee Yin Hui, assistant director of ReCAAP said that more than half of the 168 actual incidents belonged to less-severe cases of petty thefts or Category 3 (CAT 3) incidents.
“There is a difference in the incidents reported here [in Asia] as compared to Somalia. Incidents reported in Asia comprise more cases of ‘opportunistic’ sea robberies,” said Lee.
According to ReCAAP, 67% of the 168 incidents belonged to CAT 3, 41 incidents were classified under moderately significant or Category 2 (CAT 2), while 13 incidents belonged to very-significant incidents or Category 1 (CAT 1).
Lee also raised concerns on the rise of fuel siphoning in the South China Sea, where sea robbers mainly targeted 1,000-2,000gt oil/product tankers during the 20.00-23.45 hours timeframe. However, in most of such incidents, the crew was not harmed as the sea robbers were only interested in ship fuel siphoning and had no intention to hijack ship or kidnap the crew.
For the petty theft incidents, Lee observed that sea robbers had shifted their focus from stealing scrap metals for the first half of 2014 to robbing the crew of cash and personal items such as phones and laptops during the second half of 2014.