ReCAAP Quarterly Report on global piracy
Wednesday, 25 April 2012 | 00:00
There has been an improvement in the situation in Asia with a decrease in the total number of reported incidents during January-March 2012 compared to the same period in 2011. Notably the decrease in the number of reported incidents was most evident in Malaysia, the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, involving ships while underway. However, there has been an increase in incidents reported at ports and anchorages. Detailed description and analysis of the situation in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, and at the ports and anchorages in Indonesia are featured in Part Three of this report.
The ReCAAP ISC has introduced a new category of incident known as ‘petty theft’ in addition to its existing three categories: Category 1 (very significant), Category 2 (moderately significant) and Category 3 (less significant) incidents. The ‘petty theft’ category aims to further streamline the CAT 3 incidents by filtering out incidents involving robbers who were not armed and did not inflict harm on the crew.
No incident of piracy was reported during January-March 2012. All were incidents of armed robbery or petty theft onboard ships. A total of 38 incidents (comprising 35 actual incidents and three attempted incidents) were reported during January-March 2012.
Off the southwest coast of India, there has been an increase in the number of incidents involving fishermen who were mistaken as pirates on skiffs. Part Four of this report features an update of fishing activities off the southwest coast of India, and recommendations to ship masters, fishermen and authorities operating in the vicinity.
NEW CATEGORY: PETTY THEFT
The ReCAAP ISC has developed the classification methodology1 to categorise piracy and armed robbery incidents according to two factors: level of violence involved and economic loss incurred. The violence factor refers to the intensity of violence and threat faced by crew in an incident; and the indicators used to determine this are: the type of weapons used by the pirates/robbers, treatment of the crew and number of pirates/robbers involved in the incident. The economic factor takes into consideration the type of property stolen from the vessel. Cases involving theft of cash or personal effects are generally less significant compared to cases where the entire vessel is hijacked for either its cargo or the vessel itself.
Using these indicators, the ReCAAP ISC categorises incidents into one of the three levels of significance: Category 1 incidents are considered very significant, Category 2 incidents are considered moderately significant and Category 3 incidents are considered less significant.
Need for a new category: Petty Theft
Among the Category 3 incidents are petty theft cases involving robbers who were not armed, did not harm the crew and escaped immediately with stolen items or empty-handed when the crew had been alerted. Most of these incidents occurred during hours of darkness at ports and anchorages where the robbers boarded the vessel without the knowledge of the crew. These incidents were considered incidents of armed robbery against ships which is defined in accordance with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)’s Code of Practice for the Investigation of the Crimes of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships.
Being petty theft in nature and that the robbers were not armed and crew not harmed, the ReCAAP ISC categorises these incidents as ‘petty theft’. The aim is to further streamline the CAT 3 incidents to filter out incidents involving robbers who are not armed and do not inflict harm on the crew. This differentiates incidents of petty theft from incidents of armed robbery so as to facilitate a better understanding of the nature of incidents which mostly occurred at ports and anchorages. By doing so will enable the relevant authorities to prioritise the deployment of their resources more optimally, effectively and efficiently. Definition of Petty Theft
Petty theft is defined as whoever, intending to dishonestly take any moveable property out of the possession of any person/vessel without the person/owner’s consent, moves that property for private gains, is said to commit theft. For purpose of classifying an incident as petty theft, the classification methodology is adopted with the following pre-requisites:
Incident meets the criteria to be considered as an act of armed robbery against ships, and Incident is categorised as a Category 3 incident, and The robbers who boarded the vessel were not armed or no reports that they were armed, and The crew of the vessel was not harmed or no reports that the crew was harmed
Significance Level of Incidents Reported during January-March of 2008-2012
During January-March 2012, a total of 38 incidents were reported, of which 35 were actual incidents and three were attempted incidents. Of the 35 actual incidents, 14 were Category 2 (moderately significant) incidents, eight were Category 3 (less significant) incidents and 13 were Petty Theft (minimum significant). There was no Category 1 (very significant) incidents reported during this period. Chart 1 above shows the significance level of actual incidents reported during January- March of 2008-2012. Category 3 and Petty Theft Incidents
Throughout the five-year reporting period, majority of the incidents were either Category 3 or petty theft incidents. While the number of Category 3 incidents has remained fairly consistent for the past three years (January-March of 2010-2012), the number of petty theft cases appeared to have had stablised in the early years (January-March of 2008-2010) but it reached its peak in 2011. More stringent enforcement and surveillance at some ports and anchorages were necessary.
All Category 3 incidents and incidents of petty theft occurred when the vessels were anchored atports and anchorages. These incidents involved robbers operating in smaller groups (1-3 robbers) and the crew was not harmed. The robbers stole engine spares and ship stores such as mooring ropes, drums of paint etc, and escaped immediately. In incidents where the crew had been alerted, the robbers would escape empty-handed when the alarm was raised and crew mustered.
The total number of Category 3 and petty theft incidents vis-ΰ-vis the total number of incidents were on a downward trend over the past five years; from 87% (13 out of 15 incidents) during January-March 2008, to 64% (nine out of 14 incidents) during January-March 2009, to 86% (18 out of 21 incidents) during January-March 2010, to 63% (24 out of 38 incidents) during January-March 2011 and to 60% (21 out of 35 incidents) during January-March 2012.
Category 2 incidents
Notably, the number of Category 2 incidents is showing an upward trend since January-March 2010, but it had stablised in the recent two years (January-March of 2011-2012).
Predominantly, Category 2 incidents involved vessels while underway and robbers operated in larger groups of 7-9 men and >9 men. Of the 13 Category 2 incidents reported during January-March 2011, eight incidents involved ships while underway and five involved ship when anchored. Out of the 13 incidents, five involved 1-6 men, six involved 7-9 men and two involved >9 men.
However, during January-March 2012, nine out of 14 Category 2 incidents involved ships while at anchor and five incidents involved ships while underway. Of the 14 incidents, nine involved 1-6 men, three involved 7-9 men and two involved >9 men. Notably, there is consistency in the number of incidents involving weapons carried by robbers in incidents reported during January-March 2011 and 2012. Of the 13 incidents reported during 2011, four incidents involved robbers armed with guns and knives; and of the 14 incidents reported in 2012, three incidents involved robbers armed with guns and knives. Guns were not discharged except in the incident involving MP Panamax 5 on 28 Jan 12 when the robber fired four warning shots, and escaped with the ship’s stores. The crew was not injured. Number of Incidents Reported during January-March of 2008-2012
There has been an improvement in the situation of piracy and robbery onboard ships in Asia during January-March 2012 compared to the same period in 2011. However, the numbers are still higher than those reported during the same period in 2008-2010. Also the improvement during January- March 2012 was mainly due to the decline in the number of attempted incidents. The number of actual incidents show a slight decrease. Graph 1 shows the number of incidents reported during January-March of 2008-2012.