Asian Ship Piracy And Robbery In February 2023

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A recent Recaap report deals with the incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia in February 2023.

Nine occurrences of armed robbery against ships

Asia reported nine occurrences of armed robbery against ships in February 2023, which happened in internal waterways, archipelagic waters, and territorial seas. No instances of piracy2 (on the high seas) were documented.

Eight of the nine occurrences occurred in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS), which remains a source of concern. SOMS accounts for 75% (12 of 16 incidents) of the total number of incidents reported in Asia during January-February 2023.

In February 2023, there were no incidents of crew kidnapping for ransom in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah.

The latest known event took place on January 17, 2020. While the risk of crew abduction has diminished, the Philippine Coast Guard advises decreasing the threat level from ‘possibly high’ to’moderate,’ which indicates that ‘incidents are likely but less serious in nature’ The ReCAAP ISC has consequently amended its Advisory to advise all ships to consider re-routing away from the area.

In Asia, 16 occurrences of armed robbery against ships were reported during January and February 2023. All were true instances. In comparison to January-February 2022, the overall number of incidents for January-February 2023 is identical.

January-February 2023 compared with January-February 2022

Comparing January through February 2023 to the same period in 2022, the overall number of occurrences reported remained unchanged.

Compared to January-February 2022, the number of occurrences reported in India and SOMS decreased during January-February 2023. During January-February of 2023, only one event was reported in India, compared to two during the same period in 2022. During January-February 2023, 12 events were reported in SOMS, compared to 13 incidents during the same period in 2022.

However, three instances were reported in Indonesia, indicating a rise.

Areas of concern

Two areas of concern exist during January-February 2023:

1. Incidences in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS)

In SOMS, incidents continued to occur between January and February of 2023. This represents 75% (12 out of 16) of the total number of events throughout Asia.

Eleven of the twelve occurrences documented in SOMS happened in Singapore Strait and one in Malacca Strait (MS). Further specifics of the situation in SOMS can be found in pages 9-11 of this report.

2. The risk of crew kidnapping for ransom in the Sulu-Celebes Seas

Since January 2020, no incidents of crew kidnapping by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) have been reported in the Sulu-Celebes Waters. The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has decreased the abduction threat rating from “possibly high” to “moderate.”

Nonetheless, due to the presence of the remnants of the \sASG in the area, the threat of abduction of crew for ransom in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi exists.  The threat of crew kidnapping in the Sulu-Celebes Seas is described in greater detail on pages 12 to 14 of this study.

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Source: Recaap