Five piracy/robbery incidents were reported at sea in Asia last month, according to Malaysia-based Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia Information Sharing Centre (ReCAAP ISC) in its
monthly report, but it was a pair of category 1 incidents that gave the organization most cause for concern.
The total number of incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia for the year to date is now 64, down 65% year on year.
The two Category 1 incidents involved the abduction of crew from a general cargo ship and the hijacking of a tug boat towing a barge, leading to the theft of the oil cargo carried on board.
A Korean ship master and Filipino 2nd officer were abducted on October 20th 2016 from Korea-registered general cargo ship Dong Bang Giant No. 2 (11,391 GT).
This is the eighth incident of abduction of crew off eastern Sabah and southwestern Philippines since March 2016; and it is the first incident involving a general cargo ship. The previous seven incidents occurred on board tug boats towing barges and fishing trawlers.
ReCAAP observed that ships that are slow-moving and with low freeboard are vulnerable; regardless of flag or ship type. Of the 38 crew who had been abducted in the eight incidents, 33 had been released, and five are still held in captivity.
ReCAAP has advised slow-moving ships with low freeboard to re-route away from the area if at all possible.
The second category 1 incident occurred on October 25th 2016. More than 10 pirates boarded the Ever Ocean Silk, which was towing the barge Ever Giant some 60nm north of Bintulu, Sarawak, East Malaysia.
The pirates tied up the 10 crew and instructed one of them to navigate the boat. Ever Ocean Silk and Ever Giant were found about 30nm off Tanjung Kidurong, Sarawak. The crew was safe on board. but the robbers had reportedly siphoned 2,499 metric tons of palm oil and stole the crew’s personal belongings.
This is the second incident of theft of oil cargo from a ship belonging to the same company. On June 3rd this year a similar incident saw Ever Dignity lose about 3,000 litres of crude palm kernel oil.
RECAAP concluded by saying that “more needs to be done by the littoral states and shipping industry to collectively address the situation.”