2018 Sep 20

ReCAAP ISC reports crew abduction in Sulu-Celebes Seas

According to ReCAAP ISC, this week, one incident of abduction of crew of the fishing trawler, Sri Dewi 1, in Sulu-Celebes Seas took place. In addition the report presents two incidents of armed robbery against ships that happened in Venezuela and Ghana.

The Sri Dewi 1 incident was the first actual abduction of crew reported in 2018 in waters in Sulu-Celebes Seas and off eastern Sabah. The last actual incident reported to ReCAAP ISC occurred on board Super Shuttle Tug 1 on 23 March 17, and the last attempted incident occurred on board Kudos 1 on 16 Feb 18.

Namely, while sailing, two masked perpetrators armed with M16 armalite rifles boarded Sri Dewi 1 from a motor banca and abducted two crew on board. The perpetrators then headed towards near Sitangkai, Tawi-Tawi in a motorboat with the two abducted crew.

One of the crew of F/B Dwi Jaya 1, sister boat of F/B Sri Dewi 1 reported the incident to Eastern Security Command (ESSCOM) in Malaysia. He reported that he noticed that the light of F/B Sri Dewi 1 suddenly went off. Then, he noticed some perpetrators equipped with M16 rifles on board. He hi and an hour later, he discovered that two Indonesian crew of F/B Sri Dewi 1 were missing.

Fishing boats Sri Dewi 1 and Dwi Jaya 1 had 15 crew/fishermen and had been on fishing venture in the seawaters of Pulau Gaya, Sabah for three days. At the time of the incident, there were only four crew left on board the two fishing boats while the other 11 crew went to mainland Semporna using light boats to deliver/dispose their fish catch.

The ReCAAP Focal Point (Philippines) reported to the ReCAAP ISC the release of three Indonesian crew of Malaysian fishing banca on 15 Sep 18 in Indanan, Sulu. The three crew were abducted by nine armed perpetrators on 18 Jan 17 when their fishing banca was sailing at about 4 nm east of Bakungan Island, Taganak, Tawi-tawi.

Local authorities are now trying to establish the location and status of the kidnapped victims.

As the threat of abduction of crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and off eastern Sabah still remains, ReCAAP ISC maintains its advisory issued via the ReCAAP ISC Incident Alert dated 21 November 2016 to all ships to reroute from the area, where possible.

Otherwise, ship masters and crew should exercise extra vigilance while transiting the Sulu-Celebes Seas and eastern Sabah region, and report immediately to the Centres.

In addition, in this report there are two incidents of armed robbery against ships occurred outside Asia. Both incidents happened on 7 September 18 in Jose Anchorage, Venezuela and Takoradi Anchorage, Ghana.

For the first incident, while 'Pacific Valhalla', a tug boat, was at anchor in Ghana, a perpetrator armed with knife boarded the ship and stole a high-pressure washer before fleeing back onto his boat. He was spotted by two crew who tried to stop him. The perpetrator brandished a knife as he escaped. The crew was not injured.

For the second incident, while Carabobo, a VLCC, was  at anchor, six perpetrators barefooted and wore masks on their faces boarded the ship. One of the perpetrators captured the duty watch officer who was conducting security round. He dragged the duty watch officer, tied him to the sprinkler system drain pipe at the deck, searched his pocket, and took his wrist watch and keys to the deck stores and lockers.

The perpetrators took 30 minutes to lower down paint drums, tools, some ropes and other goods to aft part of the poop deck. They eventually released the duty officer before escaping from the ship by the rope from the steering gear derrick.

The ReCAAP ISC called ship master and crew to report all incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships to the nearest coastal State and flag State, be vigilant and adopt preventive measures taking reference from the Regional Guide to Counter Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia.



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