ReCAAP: Asian maritime crimes at lowest in four years

The number of incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia has reached its lowest number in the first five months of the year compared to the same period in the past four years, from 2012 to 2015, according to the latest report from Asian piracy watchdog ReCAAP ISC.

Between January and May 2016, a total of 38 incidents were reported in Asia, accounting for a 56% decrease in the overall number of incidents compared to January-May 2015 when 87 incidents were reported.

During the month of May 2016, a total of eight incidents were reported in Asia, seven of which were armed robbery against ships and one was a piracy incident which occurred in the South China Sea.

The May number represents a 65% decrease compared to the same period in 2015.

There were no incidents reported in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore during the month, however, there was one incident involving the hijacking of a product tanker, Hai Soon 12, off Pulau Belitung, Indonesia, for theft of oil cargo on board, some nine months after the previous oil cargo theft incident in August 2015.

The Indonesian authorities had foiled the theft on board Hai Soon 12 by intercepting and boarding the tanker, rescuing the crew, arresting the perpetrators and recovering the full cargo, ReCAAP ISC said.

The hijacking of the product tanker was categorized as a Category 1 incident, while another incidents, which occurred at Samarinda Anchorage, Indonesia involving four perpetrators armed with knives who boarded a bulk carrier, tied up the crew and fled with ship stores, was a Category 2 incident. The remaining six incidents were Category 4 incidents of petty theft in nature, which occurred at ports and anchorages.

“In comparison, there has been a decrease in the number of incidents across all categories during January-May 2016 compared to the same period in 2015. A 50% decrease in both the Category 1 and Category 2 incidents were observed during January-May 2016 compared to the same period in 2015,” ReCAAP ISC said in its report.

Out of the eight incidents reported, four occurred on board ships while anchored in Indonesia, namely in Jakarta Tanker Anchorage, Balikpapan Inner Anchorage and Samarinda Anchorage, one incident occurred in Vietnam’s Vung Tau Anchorage, and one in India’s Kandla Port.

The other two incidents occurred on board ships while underway in the South China Sea approaches towards Pulau Subi Besar and Java Sea, Indonesia.

ReCAAP ISC said that “there is no room for complacency as evidenced from the hijacking of Hai Soon 12” after a lapse of nine months from the last oil cargo theft.

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