A total of eight incidents of armed robbery against ships were reported in Asia in August 2018. No piracy incident was reported. There was also no report of abduction of crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and no hijacking of ships for theft of oil cargo reported in August 2018.
NUMBER OF INCIDENTS
In August 2018, a total of eight incidents (comprising seven actual incidents3 and one attempted incident4) of armed robbery against ships were reported. All incidents have been verified and reported to the ReCAAP ISC by ReCAAP Focal Points, Contact Point and regional authorities. No piracy incident was reported during August 2018. Refer to the Appendix on pages 16-19 for the description of these incidents.
Compared to the preceding month of July 2018, the number of incidents reported in August 2018
has decreased slightly. A total of nine incidents were reported in July 2018 compared to eight incidents in August 2018. Graph 1 shows the number of incidents reported each month from August 2017 to August 2018.
STATUS OF SHIPS
Of the eight incidents reported in August 2018, six incidents occurred on board ships at anchor/berth and two incidents on board ships while underway.
SIGNIFICANCE LEVEL OF INCIDENTS
Of the seven actual incidents reported in August 2018, one was CAT 2 incident and the other six were CAT 4 incidents. Chart 1 shows the significance level of incidents reported in August of 2009-2018.
NUMBER OF INCIDENTS
A total of 57 incidents comprising of 45 actual incidents and 12 attempted incidents have been verified and reported to the ReCAAP ISC during January-August 2018. Of these, 54 were incidents of armed robbery against ships and three were piracy incidents.
Compared to January-August 2017, there was a 5% increase in the total number of incidents reported during January-August 2018. A total of 54 incidents comprising 46 actual and eight attempted incidents were reported during January-August 2017.
The increase in the total number of incidents during January-August 2018 was due to the larger number of attempted incidents compared to the same period in 2017. A total of 12 attempted incidents were reported during January-August 2018 compared to eight attempted incidents during the same period in 2017. The number of actual incidents remains fairly consistent during January-August of 2018 and 2017. A total of 45 actual incidents were reported during January-August 2018 compared to 46 incidents during the same period in 2017. Graph 2 shows the number of incidents reported during the 10-year reporting period of January-August.
SIGNIFICANCE LEVEL OF INCIDENTS
Of the 45 actual incidents reported during January-August 2018, four were CAT 2 incidents, nine were CAT 3 incidents and 32 were CAT 4 incidents. Chart 2 shows the significance level of incidents reported during January-August of 2009-2018.
No CAT 1 incident was reported during January-August 2018, and the majority of incidents were CAT 4 incidents. There were four CAT 2 incidents and they occurred at ports/anchorages in Bangladesh and Indonesia; and on board ships while underway off Pulau Tinggi, Malaysia and off Tanjung Kidurong, Sarawak, East Malaysia. Nine CAT 3 incidents were reported during January-August 2018, and all occurred on board ships anchored at ports/anchorages in Indonesia (five), Bangladesh (three) and Vietnam (one).
INCREASE IN INCIDENTS AT ANCHORAGES OFF CHITTAGONG, BANGLADESH
There has been an increase in the number of incidents reported at anchorages off Chittagong, Bangladesh during January-August 2018.
A total of 11 incidents (comprising nine actual incidents and two attempted incidents) were reported during January-August 2018 compared to six incidents (all actual incidents) reported during the same period in 2017. Of the 11 incidents reported during January-August 2018, 10 incidents occurred at anchorages off Chittagong and one incident occurred at anchorage off Kutubdia Island. Map 2 shows the location of the 11 incidents during January-August 2018.
Mooring ropes were stolen by perpetrators in seven of the nine incidents reported to ReCAAP ISC during January-August 2018. The other two incidents reported loss of drums of paint and unsecured items.
Recovery of stolen items and arrest of perpetrators
The Bangladesh authorities had successfully recovered the stolen items in five of the incidents reported during January-August 2018. However, there was no mention about the arrest of the perpetrators responsible except in the incident involving Bertina on 12 Apr 18, when the Bangladesh Coast Guard successfully apprehended three perpetrators and handed them over to the local police.
The ReCAAP ISC advises all ships anchored off Chittagong to secure all stores under lock, increase look-out during hours of darkness, and make immediate report of all incidents to the port authorities and law enforcement agencies. The Bangladeshi law enforcement agencies and port authorities are advised to step up patrols and implement security measures at ports/anchorages off Chittagong, render assistance to victim ships and arrest the perpetrators involved.
ROBBERY OFF TANJUNG KIDURONG, BINTULU ON 4 AUG 18
On 4 Aug 18 at about 2300 hrs, a Kuching-registered oil tanker was underway from Bintulu to Miri, Sarawak, East Malaysia when five perpetrators armed with pistol and long knife boarded the tanker from a small fast boat at about 12 nm off Tanjung Kidurong, Sarawak, East Malaysia.The perpetrators wore masks and gloves. When on board the ship, they tied all crew and took away their cash, mobile phones and some jewellery items before escaping off from the ship. The crew was not injured, and the ship was not carrying any oil cargo on board.
With information gathered about the perpetrators, and cooperation with the local police, MMEA arrested the perpetrators on 17 Aug 18 and handed over to the investigation team. Upon further interrogation, the perpetrators admitted to the robbery on 4 Aug 18 and brought the investigation team to the location of the fast boat they used to commit the robbery and the stolen items. All five perpetrators are currently being held in remand and would be charged for gang robbery under the Penal Code of Malaysia.
Comments by ReCAAP ISC
This is the first incident of armed robbery at sea reported off Bintulu since January 2018. No incident was reported off Bintulu in 2017. The ReCAAP ISC commends the MMEA for their perseverance and efforts in investigating the incident and arresting the perpetrators.
There were two incidents reported in 2016 off Bintulu; and both were hijacking of ships for theft of oil cargo. The first incident occurred on 3 Jun 16 when perpetrators boarded tug boat, Ever Prosper, robbed the crew and siphoned 3,000 litres of Crude Palm Kernel Oil (CPKO) from barge Ever Dignity. The other incident occurred on 25 Oct 16 when perpetrators boarded tug boat, Ever Ocean Silk, stole the ship’s communication and navigation equipment, crew’s personal belongings and siphoned 2,500 metric tons of palm oil from barge, Ever Giant. Map 3 shows the location of incidents.
Although there was no indication to suggest that this latest incident on 4 Aug 18 was one of theft of oil cargo, the ReCAAP ISC advises all ship masters to exercise extra vigilance; and the authorities to step up surveillance.
UPDATE ON SITUATION OF ABDUCTION OF CREW IN THE SULU-CELEBES SEAS
There was no report of actual incident involving the abduction of crew from ships while underway in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off eastern Sabah in August 2018. The last actual incident reported to the ReCAAP ISC occurred on board Super Shuttle Tug 1 on 23 Mar 17.
As the threat of abduction of crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas is not eliminated, 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 are strongly urged to exercise extra vigilance while transiting the Sulu-Celebes Seas and eastern Sabah region, and report immediately to the Centres as shown in map below.
Press Release: ReCAAP