ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ISC) recently released its Annual (January to December 2018) Report.
Highlights of the report, whose information is verified by the respective government agencies, also known as Focal Points, and regional authorities, include:
- There was a total of 76 incidents of piracy and armed robbery reported in Asia between January to December 2018, comprising 62 actual incidents and 14 attempted incidents
- This represents a decrease of 25% in the total number of incidents and a 31% decrease in actual incidents compared to 2017
- This marks the lowest number of incidents since ReCAAP ISC began keeping records in 2007
- Of the 76 incidents, four were incidents of piracy, while 72 were armed robbery against ships
Areas of improvement
- There was improvement at some ports and anchorages in 2018, particularly at the Manila anchorage in the Philippines
- Successful arrests of perpetrators were reported in 2018 in Bangladesh (Chittagong), India (off Alang, Gujarat), Philippines (Manila), Indonesia (Pulau Batam), Malaysia (Pulau Tinggi, Sarawak, and off Tambisan, Sabah)
- There was no theft of oil cargo in 2018; while there were two incidents of suspicious intent to steal oil cargo reported in June and August 2018, the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) successfully arrested the mastermind and perpetrators in both incidents
- There was a decrease of incident of abduction of crew for ransom in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah in 2018; three incidents (two actual and one attempted incidents) of abduction of crew were reported in 2018 compared to seven incidents (three actual and four attempted incidents) in 2017
Areas of concern
- There were more than ten incidents at ports and anchorages in Chittagong, Bangladesh, and in Samarinda, Indonesia
- There were also slight increases reported in Malaysia and Vietnam
- Despite the decrease in the number of incidents in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah, the abduction of crew for ransom remains a serious threat in the area
Insights from data analytics
Over the past 12 years (2007-2018), ReCAAP ISC has collected the data of 1,560 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia. These data enable the Centre to conduct deeper analysis on the nature of incidents.
Using data analytics, ReCAAP ISC has made several observations on the incidents of the past 12 years in the Annual Report on the patterns concerning the number of perpetrators, the weapons used, treatment of crew, items stolen, the types of ships boarded, and time of incidents reported in Asia.
The characteristics of the incidents in the past 12 years are:
- The majority of the incidents involved 4-6 perpetrators (34%) or 1-3 perpetrators (24%)
- The most commonly used weapons were knives/machetes/others (such as rod). The weapons were often used to cut mooring ropes and remove items on the deck such as life/floating buoys, fire hose, etc
- More than 81% of the incidents reported that the crew did not suffer from any injures or there was no information on the condition of the crew
- In 32% of the incidents, nothing was stolen by perpetrators who escaped empty-handed when sighted by the crew
- The most common stolen items were ship stores (e.g. ropes, paint, lubricating oil/grease, etc)
- There was no evidence to suggest that certain types of ships were targeted, but 63% of incidents occurred on board either tankers or bulk carriers
- Most of the incidents occurred during hours of darkness with 60% of incidents occurred between 0000-0600 hours and 20% between 1900-2400 hours
The Annual Report (January to December 2018) was released at the 10th Nautical Forum was attended by more than 150 participants from shipping companies, industry associations, government/regulatory agencies, diplomatic missions as well as academic institutions.
“While ReCAAP ISC welcomes the recent downward trend in the number of incidents of piracy and sea robbery in Asia, we urge the law enforcement/regulatory authorities and shipping industry to continue the vigilance and cooperation that has led to the decrease,” said Masafumi Kuroki, executive director of ReCAAP ISC.
“In Asia, more than 90% of the incidents are armed robbery against ships, which occur in territorial waters of the Coastal States. Therefore, the ownership and efforts of the Coastal States in deterring, detecting, and apprehending perpetrators is vital in reducing the number of incidents in Asia, as are the vigilance and preventive measures by ships,” concluded Masafumi Kuroki.