There were three reported cases of armed robbery on ships in Asia last month: One occurred in the Singapore Strait and two involved Singapore-flagged vessels.
This is according to a report released by the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (Recaap) yesterday. The Singapore-based organisation noted that the number represented a 50 per cent decrease compared with the same period last year.
The Singapore Strait incident occurred at about 5pm on Feb 5, and involved two Malaysia-flagged vessels, Jin Hwa 43, which is a tugboat, and Jin Hwa 44, a barge.
The tugboat had been pulling the barge, which was laden with scrap iron, when the boat's master reported to Singapore's Vessel Traffic Information System and the Singapore Police Coast Guard that he had spotted some people boarding the barge from a number of small boats.
"The master later reported that the perpetrators had left the barge with some scrap iron," said Recaap, which noted that both vessels continued on their voyage to Penang.
The second incident, which involved Singapore-flagged tanker Maersk Capri, occurred on Feb 6 at the Belawan anchorage near Medan in Indonesia.
A seaman conducting security rounds had noticed an intruder on board who later escaped on a wooden boat. While none of the crew was injured, a fire hose nozzle was stolen.
In the third case, on Feb 11 at the Caofeidian anchorage in China, 67 tonnes of low sulphur diesel oil was reported stolen from the Singapore-flagged bulk carrier RTM Dampier. The ship's crew were not injured.
Recaap advised ships to exercise "enhanced vigilance" when calling at the Caofeidian and Jingtang ports in Hebei province in China, noting that there were two incidents reported at Caofeidian and one at Jingtang over the past two months.
"Ship masters are encouraged to make timely report of all incidents to the port authorities and law enforcement agencies in the region; and assist in investigation when called upon by the authorities," said the organisation, adding that it also urged enforcement agencies to beef up surveillance and provide quick responses to all reports of incidents.
Recaap executive director Masafumi Kuroki said in January there were 76 reported cases of piracy and armed robbery in Asia last year, the lowest in more than a decade. Of these, eight cases occurred in the Malacca and Singapore straits.