Piracy in Asia: A situation report

A little-known success story?

Despite ongoing incidents of piracy in Asia, international co-operation efforts are having genuine success at containing the issue. Various policy initiatives are showing promise for the security of the region’s sea lanes, now and into the future, Sam Bateman writes.

Since I wrote on the subject of piracy in Asia for Policy Forum in 2016, the situation has shown marked improvement. According to the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), there were 76 incidents in Asia in 2018 as compared with 203 in 2015. In the first nine months of 2019, 54 incidents occurred in the region as compared with 64 in the same period of 2018, a significant drop by any measure.

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Source: policyforum.net


Piracy in Asia sees reduced incidents in first half: ReCAAP

A total of 28 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia were reported in the first half of this year, marking the lowest number in 13 years since the first half of 2007, according to data by ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ISC).

While there was a year-on-year drop in first half incidents, 18 incidents were reported in the second quarter, up from 10 incidents in the first quarter.

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Source: seatrade-maritime.com

Armed Robberies: 28 Incidents Reported to ReCAAP ISC in H1 2019

By Baibhav Mishra

Twenty-eight Incidents Reported to ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre from January to June 2019, Marking 32% Year-on-Year Decrease, and the Lowest in Number among 13-Year Period of January to June

The ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ISC) today released its Half-Yearly (January to June 2019) Report. Highlights of the report, whose information is verified by the respective government agencies, also known as Focal Points, and regional authorities, include:

Overall Summary

  1. Total of 28 incidents reported from January to June 2019, of which 25 were actual incidents while 3 were attempted cases
  2. Of the 28 incidents reported, 26 (93%) were armed robbery against ships and two (7%) were piracy
  3. This marks a 32% decrease compared to the same period in 2018 in the number of incidents reported
  4. This is also the lowest number among the 13-year period (2007-2019) of January to June
  5. In terms of severity, there was one Category 1 incident, two Category 2 incidents, two Category 3 incidents and 20 Category 4

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Source: seanews.co.uk

MPA Singapore Rejects Chinese Security Alert

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has responded to China’s decision to raise the security level for its vessels heading through the Strait of Malacca, asserting that no information has been received about an immediate threat.

According to Bloomberg, a notice was served by China’s transport ministry on July 2, advising Chinese-flagged vessels to adopt heightened security measures and raise their security warning to level three.

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Source: porttechnology.org

China raises attack alert in Malacca Strait to highest level

Shipping companies are asked by authorities in Beijing to increase the security level on ships transiting the Strait of Malacca, one of the world’s busiest waterways. Cosco Shipping’s tanker unit has warned its staff about possible attacks from some Indonesian gangs

Cichen Shen

The raising of the threat level for Chinese-flagged vessels has been unexpected, particularly as the regional dynamics within and surrounding the Malacca Strait are stable’ — maritime security intelligence company Dryad Global

BEIJING has raised the security level on Chinese-flagged vessels transiting the Straits of Malacca, according to documents seen by Lloyd’s List.

Shipping companies have been advised to implement Security Level 3 — the highest state of alertness under the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code — effective from 2200hrs local time July 2, the Ministry of Transport said in a notification.

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Source: lloydslist.maritimeintelligence.informa.com

Piracy in West Africa: The world’s most dangerous seas?

The seas off West Africa’s oil-rich coastline are now the most dangerous in the world for shipping, according to a new report.

One Earth Future, which produces an annual State of Maritime Piracy, says that while attacks have been falling substantially in some regions of the world, in West Africa they’ve been on the rise and are now more frequent than anywhere else.

So why the increase in West Africa, and what shipping is being targeted?

What is piracy?

A strict definition of maritime piracy only includes attacks on shipping on the high seas – that is, more than 12 nautical miles off the coastline and not under the jurisdiction of any state.

Inside a country’s territorial waters and within port facilities, these attacks are defined as armed robberies at sea.

However, the data we’ve used from this latest report combines these two sets of data to give an overall picture of incidents at sea both inshore and offshore.

In 2018, there were 112 such incidents in West African waters.

It’s not just the huge tankers exporting oil and gas from Nigeria and Ghana that are targeted.

Commercial ships from smaller countries are also in the sights of the pirates.

At a recent event in London, President Faure Gnassingbé of Togo – a country sandwiched between these two regional giants – highlighted his own concerns at the rise in attacks on regional shipping.

“Our region is distinguished by the resurgence of transnational criminality on the high seas in the Gulf of Guinea,” said Mr Gnassingbé.

Why are attacks rising?

Most of the attacks have been against ships involved in oil and gas transportation, such as tankers, bulk carriers and tugs. Fishing vessels have also been targeted.

The coastline off Nigeria saw the most attacks in 2018. This is partly because of “petro-piracy”, targeting tankers from Nigeria’s rich oil and gas fields.

There were also incidents reported at the loading and anchorage facilities in the Nigerian port of Lagos.

Piracy in the form of hijacking and kidnapping for ransom payments was also common off the coasts of Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, Congo-Brazzaville and Cameroon.

Rich pickings at sea, political instability, the lack of law enforcement and poverty on land are all factors which have contributed to the increase in piracy.

Most of the seafarers affected are not from the region. Around half are from the Philippines, followed by India, Ukraine and Nigeria.

One of the reasons West Africa is now the number one spot for piracy is because of of the downward trends recorded elsewhere.

The East African shipping routes along the Somali coastline have been notorious for hijackings and robberies.

But since peaking in 2011, rates of piracy there have fallen off dramatically in recent years.

This is in large measure as a result of a successful multi-national effort to patrol these waters and take firm action action against acts of piracy.

Local efforts on land in Somalia to change attitudes towards permitting piracy and building legal capacity to prosecute criminals have also helped improve the situation.

In Asia, the Malacca Strait, a busy, commercially important stretch of water between Malaysia and Indonesia, experienced a high number of attacks in 2015.

Concerted action by regional naval forces has reduced the problem there, but piracy still persists.

Attacks against shipping in the Caribbean and off the coast of Latin American have, however, risen.

Venezuela in particular has become a hotspot for piracy.

“Political and economic instability is a big factor there,” says Lydelle Joubert, an expert on piracy at One Earth Future.

Source: bbc.co.uk

US, Japan Conduct Cooperative Naval Deployment in Strait of Malacca

By Ankit Panda

A U.S. Navy warship joined two Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) for a cooperative deployment in the strategic Malacca Strait on May 18.

USS William P. Lawrence, a U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, joined the MSDF’s Izumo-class helicopter carrier JS Izumo and Murasame-class destroyer JS Murasame in the Malacca Strait.

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Source: thediplomat.com

ReCAAP ISC: Alert on Incidents in Singapore Strait during January-April

By Baibhav Mishra

During January-April 2019, four incidents of unauthorised boarding of ships in locations of close proximity to each other were reported in the western sector of Singapore Strait.

All four incidents occurred to tug boats towing barges and dredger while underway in the westbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS). Of the four incidents, two incidents reported loss of scrap metal, and nothing was reported stolen in the other two incidents. The crew was not injured in all four incidents.

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Source: seanews.co.uk

ReCAAP ISC Piracy and Sea Robbery Conference 2019 Updates International Maritime Community on Current Situation in Asia and Africa

ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ISC) today held its annual Piracy and Sea Robbery Conference to an audience of international maritime stakeholders including shipping and marine insurance companies, regulators and law enforcement agencies, as well as the diplomatic community based in Singapore.

In his keynote address, Mr. Koji Sekimizu, former Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) reviewed the history of activities of IMO in dealing with maritime security and anti-piracy actions covering the establishment of ReCAAP, Somali Piracy, the Contact Group in conjunction with UN Security Council decisions, Djibouti Code of Conduct, Best Management Practices, and discussed a number of issues from his wide experience dealing with these matters as UN officer working at IMO and in the wider context of Maritime Governance by UN and IMO.

The conference addressed topics that are currently high on the agenda of the international maritime community including:

  • Piracy and Sea Robbery Situation in Asia (ReCAAP ISC)
  • Abduction of Crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and Waters off Easter Sabah (Philippine Coast Guard)
  • Update on the Indian Ocean High Risk Area (INTERTANKO)
  • Maritime Cybersecurity (BIMCO)
  • Effects and Implications of Piracy (Panel discussion moderated by World Maritime University)

“In 2018, there were 76 incidents of piracy and armed robbery reported in Asia. This was a 25% decrease in the total number of incidents and a 31% decrease in actual incidents compared to 2017. Nonetheless, it is important that we continue to reinforce the ownership of the Coastal States in addressing maritime crime, the cooperation between law enforcement agencies and the industry, and the timely reporting by ships, all of which have led to the decrease of incidents in Asia. The topics and speakers of this year’s conference have been designed to reflect the vitality of that shared responsibility,” remarked Masafumi Kuroki, Executive Director of ReCAAP ISC.

“Over the past couple of years, piracy and terrorism in the Sulu and Celebes Seas has been a point of concern for the shipping industry. The valuable counter-piracy lessons learned here, and off Somalia, are worth exploring, and may well be applied in the current piracy hotspot number one: The Gulf of Guinea. The annual ReCAAP ISC conference will surely help us do just that,” said Jakob P. Larsen, Head of Maritime Security at BIMCO.

“The threat from piracy remains, in Asia and also in the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean High Risk Area (HRA) continues to serve an important reference in ensuring ships and seafarers are prepared for pirate attacks,” said Tim Wilkins, Environment Director and Regional Manager, Asia-Pacific of INTERTANKO. “A serious threat remains despite the reduction to the area’s geographic boundaries and so correct reporting, vigilance and adherence to the 5th edition of the Best Management Practices to Deter Piracy and Enhance Maritime Security in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea (BMP5) remains crucial. Shipowners must remain alert and law enforcement agencies must continue to provide protection to shipping.”

Ambassador Ong Keng Yong, Executive Deputy Chairman of RSIS, highlighted the relevance of the conference, “This annual conference is an important knowledge-sharing platform on risks and threats facing the international maritime community. We discussed piracy and sea robbery as well as relevant emerging technologies, and shared ideas on solving problems affecting ship owners and seafarers. The most useful part of this exchange is on how to work together effectively.”

Source: recaap.org

Robbery in SOMS (March 5th)

Whilst underway, Malaysia-flagged tugboat and barge, crew spotted 11 robbers boarding the barge that was being towed by tug boat from two small crafts at 0310 UTC in position 01:12.08N – 103:34.62E, Straits of Malacca & Singapore. Tugboat and barge carrying scrap iron, bound for Penang, Malaysia. At about 0345 UTC, Master reported that 11 robbers have escaped in small crafts with stolen scrap iron. No confrontation with the crew. All crew are safe. Reported (ReCAAP) 5 Mar. Via OCEANUSLive.org.