Piracy & Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia - ReCAAP ISC 3rd Quarterly Report 2015
A total of 161 incidents, comprising 150 actual incidents and 11 attempted incidents, were reported in Asia during January-September 2015 by ReCAAP ISC. Compared to January-September 2014, the number of incidents reported during January- September 2015 has increased by 25%, from 129 to 161 incidents. ReCAAP has also recategorised incidents previously captioned as 'petty theft' to Category 4 incident.ReCAAP 3rd Quarterly 2015 Report Cover
Of the 161 incidents, 110 incidents occurred on board ships while underway and 51 on board ships while at ports and anchorages. Notably, the bulk of the incidents on board ships while underway occurred in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS). Of the 110 incidents, 96 (87%) were reported in SOMS, mostly in the eastbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) in the Singapore Strait (SS) where ships are relatively more vulnerable to boarding due to their slow speed while transiting the strait, particularly negotiating the turn at the Philip Channel.
Of the 51 incidents reported on board ships at anchor/berth, 16 occurred in Indonesia and 19 in Vietnam. The rest occurred in other ports and anchorages.
Piracy Vs Armed Robberies Against Ships
Of the 161 incidents, 11 were piracy incidents and 150 were incidents of armed robbery against ships. It is important to differentiate between incidents of ‘piracy’ and incidents of ‘armed robbery against ships’ as piracy incident occurred on board ship on high seas, while armed robbery against ships occurred within a State’s internal waters, archipelagic waters and territorial sea. Unlike incident of piracy, the State has the ‘ownership’ to manage an incident of armed robbery against ships that occurred within its jurisdiction.
Number of Perpetrators
Majority of the incidents reported during January-September 2015 involved group of 1 to 6 men. Of the 150 actual incidents, 97 (65%) involved perpetrators of 1 to 6 men, 21 incidents (14%) reported involvement of 7 to 9 men. Two incidents reported more than 9 men, and these were incidents involving the hijacking of Dongfang Glory on 1 Apr 15 and Orkim Harmony on 11 Jun 15, both for theft of the cargo oil on board.
Types of Weapons Carried
About 65% of the incidents reported during January-September 2015 involved perpetrators who were either not armed or there were no reports on whether they were armed. Of the 150 incidents, 42 incidents (28%) reported that the perpetrators were armed with knives and machetes; and 11 incidents (7%) reported the perpetrators armed with guns and knives. The ReCAAP ISC urges ship master and crew to avoid physical confrontation with perpetrators who are armed.
Treatment of Crew
Notably, majority of the incidents during January-September 2015 reported that the crew either did not suffer any injuries or there was no information available on the condition of the crew. However, some form of violence was reported in 25 incidents comprising three cases of crew being threatened, 13 cases of crew being held hostage (temporarily and released when the perpetrators left the ships), six cases of crew being assaulted, one case of crew being discarded (abandoned into a life raft), and two cases of crew seriously injured of which one was punched in the face in the hijacking of Joaquim on 8 Aug 15; and the other suffered a gun shot in his thigh in the hijacking of Orkim Harmony on 11 Jun 15. Both crew recovered after treatment.
With feedback from the shipping industry and our partner organizations, the ReCAAP ISC in consultation with its Focal Points had reviewed the nomenclature of the four categories under the ReCAAP ISC’s Methodology in Classifying Incidents. For consistency in the use of the terms for all categories, the category of ‘petty theft’ is renamed ‘Category 4’ or in short, ‘CAT 4’ instead. This is also to avoid misunderstanding of the term ‘petty theft’ which to some may suggest the intention to downplay the severity of the incident and ignoring the well- being of seafarers. To provide understanding of the four categories of CAT 1, CAT 2, CAT 3 and CAT 4, a narrative-based explanation of each of its broad characteristic is explained in the appendix. Of the 161 incidents reported during the period January-September 2015, 11 were CAT 1 incidents, 21 were CAT 2 incidents, 26 were CAT 3 incidents, 92 were CAT 4 incidents and 11 were attempted incidents. Compared to the same period in 2014, the bulk of the increase were CAT 1 incidents and CAT 4 incidents; while CAT 2 and CAT 3 incidents had fluctuated within the range of between 20-30 incidents over the last four years.
CAT 4 - More than half of CAT 4 incidents involved 1-3 men who were not reported to be armed and the perpetrators escaped empty-handed upon sighted by the crew immediately. Nothing was stolen and crew was not harmed.
Based on reports received by ReCAAP ISC for the period of January-September 2015, an average of about one to two incidents of hijacking of ships for theft of cargo had been reported a month; and this remains a concern.