A total of seven incidents of piracy¹ and armed robbery against ships² were reported in Asia (comprising five actual incidents³ and two attempted incidents⁴) in January 2018. Of the seven incidents, one was a piracy incident and six were armed robberies against ships. There was no actual or attempted incident involving the abduction of crew from ships in the Sulu-Celebes Sea and waters off Eastern Sabah; and no incident involving the hijacking of ships for theft of oil cargo in January 2018.
In January 2018, there were two reports of arrest of perpetrators and recovery of stolen items by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Indian Coast Guard (ICG).
NUMBER OF INCIDENTS
In January 2018, a total of seven incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships (comprising five actual incidents and two attempted incidents) were reported. The location of the incidents is shown in Map 1. All incidents have been verified⁵ and reported to the ReCAAP ISC by ReCAAP Focal Points and regional authorities. Compared to December 2017, the situation in January 2018 has improved. A total of 16 incidents were reported in December 2017. Graph 1 shows the number of incidents reported each month from January 2017 to January 2018.
1 Definition of piracy is in accordance with Article 101 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Refer to Appendix for detailed definition.
2 Definition of armed robbery against ships is in accordance with the Code of Practice for the Investigation of Crimes of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships of
the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Assembly Resolution A.1025 (26). Refer to Appendix for detailed definition.
3 Actual incidents are incidents where pirates/robbers had boarded the ship; and regardless of whether they made off with any items stolen from the crew or
secured and unsecured items found on board the ship.
4 Attempted incidents are incidents where pirates/robbers tried but failed to board the ship.
5 A total of another six incidents are pending verification.
STATUS OF SHIPS
Of the seven incidents reported in January 2018, five incidents occurred on board ships while at anchor/berth, and two incidents on board ships while underway.
Incidents on board ships at anchor/berth. The five incidents occurred at Muara Berau (East Kalimantan, Indonesia), Manila (Philippines), Cam Pha (Vietnam) and the South China Sea.
Incidents on board ships while underway. The two incidents occurred on board ships while underway off Alang, Gujarat (India) and off Pulau Karimun (Straits of Malacca and Singapore).
SIGNIFICANCE LEVEL OF INCIDENTS
Chart 1 shows the significance level of incidents⁶ reported in January of 2009-2018. All five actual incidents reported in January 2018 were CAT 4 incidents. These incidents were petty theft in nature carried out by perpetrators who were not armed, and the crew was not injured.
6 Refer to the Appendix for the description of the four Category levels (CAT 1, CAT 2, CAT 3 and CAT 4).
SITUATION ON ABDUCTION OF CREW FROM SHIPS WHILE UNDERWAY IN THE SULU-CELEBES SEA AND WATERS OFF EASTERN SABAH
There was no report of incident involving the abduction of crew from ships while underway in the Sulu-Celebes Sea in January 2018. The last actual incident reported to the ReCAAP ISC occurred on board Super Shuttle Tug 1 on 23 Mar 17; and the last attempted incident occurred on board Doña Annabel on 18 Apr 17.
As of January 2018, nine crew is still being held in captivity⁷. The Philippine authorities continued to conduct pursuit operations and intensify its military operations to rescue the abducted crew and
neutralise the militant group. The ReCAAP ISC reiterates its advisory issued via the ReCAAP ISC Incident Alert dated 21 Nov 16 to all ships to re-route from the area, where possible. Otherwise, ship masters and crew are strongly urged to exercise extra vigilance while transiting the Sulu-Celebes Sea and eastern Sabah region, maintain communication and report all incidents to the following Centres:
1. Philippine Coast Guard District
Tel: +63 929686 4129
Tel: +63 929686 0689
VHF: Channel 16 with call-sign “ENVY”
2. Navy – Littoral Monitoring Station (LMS)
Bongao, Tawi-Tawi Tel: +63 917774 2293
VHF: Channel 16
3. Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM)
Tel: +60 89863181/016
Fax: +60 898631812
VHF: Channel 16 with call-sign “ESSCOM”
7 Since March 2016 (till January 2018), a total of 59 crew had been abducted. Of these, 28 had been released, 15 rescued, seven killed and nine are still in captivity
UPDATE ON CONSTRUCTION OF SAR BASE AND INSTALLATION OF MONITORING RADARS IN THE SIBUTU PASSAGE
The PCG’s Coast Guard District Southwestern Mindanao together with the local government unit inaugurated the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of a search-and-rescue (SAR) station on Sibutu Island on 16 Nov 17. The SAR station will incorporate new radar stations⁸ which are equipped with systems that detect and identify ships’ movements. The new SAR station and radars will enable the PCG to monitor ships passing through the Sulu and Celebes Sea. When the SAR station and radars become operational, a new recommended transit corridor (RTC) will be established to guide mariners passing between the Sibutu Passage and the Basilan Strait.
8 The acquisition of 20 radars along with 11 radars sponsored by the Japanese government is already on its final phase of procurement process.
ARREST OF PERPETRATORS
Incident involving container ship, Polar Ecuador at Manila Port
On 1 Jan 18 at about 0330 hrs, container ship, Polar Ecuador was anchored in the South Harbour Anchorage Area, Manila, Philippines when seven perpetrators boarded the ship from a motorized motor banca with markings “Shyrill”.
The master reported the incident immediately to the Manila port authorities. Upon receipt of the report, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) activated its floating asset DF 313 and conducted maritime patrol in the vicinity. The PCG team located the suspected motor banca, boarded and apprehended five perpetrators on board the banca. Two other perpetrators managed to jump into the water and swam towards an unknown direction. The PCG recovered the stolen items found on board the motor banca comprising a welding machine, breathing apparatus, extension wire and paint. The PCG took custody of the motor banca used by the perpetrators, and upon investigation discovered that it was a stolen item. The authorities have filed charges of theft and robbery against the perpetrators in the court of Manila.
Incident involving tanker, Ocean 1 while underway off Alang, India
On 7 Jan 18 at about 1245 hrs, tanker, Ocean 1 towed by tug boat, ASL Scorpio was underway at approximately 11 nm off Alang, Gujarat, India when three perpetrators boarded the tanker from a fishing boat. The crew immediately reported the incident to the local authorities. The Indian Coast Guard Station Pipavav requested the Indian Marine Police to investigate the incident. On 11 Jan 18, the Marine Police reported that they arrested the perpetrators and recovered the stolen items comprising ship stores and engine spares. Investigation is ongoing.
The situation of piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia has improved in January 2018 compared to December 2017. A total of seven incidents were reported in January 2018 compared to 16 incidents reported in December 2017. There was no report on the abduction of crew for ransom and hijacking of ships for theft of oil cargo in January 2018.
The ReCAAP ISC advocates timely and accurate reporting of all incidents to the authorities and quick response by the enforcement agencies. This was demonstrated in the incidents involving Polar Ecuador and Ocean 1, which
led to the arrest of the perpetrators and recovery of the stolen items.
The ReCAAP ISC advises ships transiting the areas of concern to exercise enhanced vigilance, maintain look-out for suspicious approach by boats, report all incidents to the nearest coastal State and flag State immediately, keep abreast of the latest situation and implement preventive measures recommended in the Regional Guide to Counter Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia.