The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia, aka ReCAAP, reports a 22% increase in the total number of piracy and armed robbery incidents in Asian waters in 2014.
The ReCAAP Information Sharing Center is the first government-to-government agreement to promote and enhance cooperation in the fight against piracy and armed robbery in Asia, with a total of 19 States involved to date. In its annual report, the organization tallied a total of 183 incidents across three category levels: category 1 being very significant, 2 being moderately significant; and 3 being less significant.
According to the report, a total of 183 incidents comprising 168 actual incidents and 15 attempted incidents were reported in 2014, marking an increase of 22% in the total number of incidents compared to 2013 and the highest number among the five-year reporting period from 2010 to 2014. Of the 183 incidents, 13 (7%) were considered Category 1 incidents, 41 (23%) were Category 2 incidents, and 114 (62%) were Category 3 and petty theft incidents. Meanwhile, of those same 183 incidents, 45 were piracy incidents.
The report said that of the 13 Category 1 incidents, 11 involved the successful siphoning of ship fuel/oil by perpetrators who boarded the ship specifically to steal oil. Most of these incidents were Category 1 in nature because the perpetrators were armed with guns and knives; involved larger group of men who took control of the ship; threatened, ? ed and locked the crew in the cabin; siphoned the fuel/oil onboard the ship to another tanker/barge that came alongside; and before escaping, destroyed the ship’s communication and navigational equipment and took the crew’s cash and personal belongings, ReCAAP said.
2014 also saw an increase in the number of incidents in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS) and the South China Sea (SCS). The report notes that most were Category 3 and petty theft incidents occurring onboard ships while undwerway in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore and anchored/berthed in the South China Sea. These incidents mostly involved perpetrators who were opportunistic in nature, did not harm or were violent towards the crews, and entailed little or no economic loss as the perpetrators escaped once the crew was alerted, the report said. Incidents resulting in the perpetrators escaping empty-handed occurred in 55% of the incidents in the SOMS and 65% of the incidents in the SCS, according to the report.
ReCAAP warns that in light of the development of the situation in Asia in 2014, more needs to be done collectively by the shipping community and govermental agencies in timely reporting, information sharing and operational responses.