Three incidents of armed robbery against ships, and one attempted incident in Asia were reported to ReCAAP ISC from 18-24 of July.

Of the four incidents, two incidents occurred to bulk carriers while underway in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS), and two incidents onboard a tank and a chemical tanker while anchored at Batam Anchorage and Dumai Port, Inner Anchorage.

ReCAAP ISC said the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS) continues to be an area of concern, with 41 incidents reported during Jan – Jun 2023 compared to 27 incidents during the same period in 2022.

Of the 41 incidents reported in the SOMS, 38 incidents occurred in the Singapore Strait (SS), a 41% increase compared to 27 incidents in the first half of 2022.

Three incidents occurred in the Malacca Strait compared to no incident in the first half of 2022.

“The increase in incidents in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore is likely due to the socio-economic situation worsened by the pandemic, lower fish catch due to climate change as well as the prevailing Southwest monsoon,” said Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) executive director Krishnaswamy Natarajan.

“These factors may have led the locals of the Strait to turn to sea robbery and petty crimes to make ends meet.

“I urge the law enforcement agencies of coastal States to enhance surveillance, increase patrols and respond promptly to reports of incidents,” he added.

In 42% of the incidents in the Singapore Strait in the first half of this year, nothing was stolen, or losses cannot be ascertained.

Items like engine spares, ships store and unsecured items were taken in the remaining 58% of incidents, according to available data.

Approximately two thirds of the ships boarded in the SS were bulk carriers while underway/sailing. 87% of incidents occurred during hours of darkness between 1800 to 0559 hrs.

The nature of the incidents is generally opportunistic and of lesser severity, committed by perpetrators who are non-confrontational and adopting a ‘hit-and run’ approach, said ReCAAP.

In most incidents, the criminals board ships that are ill-prepared, have low freeboard, and manoeuvre at slow speed in restricted areas of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS). The most commonly stolen items are ship stores, scrap metal and machinery spares.

“Ships transiting the SOMS are strongly advised to enhance vigilance, maintain all round look-out and report all incidents immediately to the nearest coastal State authorities,” added Krishnaswamy Natarajan.