The Regional Co-operation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) reports that armed individuals targeted six ships travelling in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore on Friday and Saturday last week. All the attacks happened within 30 hours of one another, and there were reportedly five unauthorized boarding and one attempted boarding. None of the ships experienced loss of cargo and all crewmembers were safe afterwards. According to the report, only one ship had some of the crew’s personal effects stolen, while the perpetrators in the other cases fled the scene without causing any damage. Among the attacked ships were the Danish container ship Maersk Lebu. Here the four attackers succeeded in breaking into the ship’s engine room before they were discovered on the ships’ surveillance camera. Maersk’s headquarters in Copenhagen confirms the information.
“We can confirm that Maersk Lebu has been exposed to what we assume is an attempt at robbery on Friday, the 21st of August. The ship was en route from Port Elizabeth in South Africa to Singapore in Malaysian waters when four men boarded, and an alarm went off,” Michael Storgaard, press manager at Maersk Line, explains to the danish news media TV2.
It was suggested that the same crew might have carried out the attacks. “From the description of the incidents, the perpetrators operated in about 4-5 persons, armed with knives and were opportunistic in nature without targeting specific vessels. Of concern was their persistence in ‘hovering’ in the vicinity seeking out their next target,” the report from ReCAAP says. No official reports suggest there was any attempt to hijack the vessels. In total, ReCAAP said that three tankers, two containerships, and one bulker was attacked.
According to Michael Storgaard, it is the first time that one of Maersk’s ships have been robbed in this area.
A new report from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) highlights a continuing trend in South East Asia in the hijacking of small coastal tankers by maritime pirates, averaging one attack every two weeks. According to the report, five small tankers were hijacked in South East Asian waters in the second quarter of 2015 alone, bringing the total number of vessels hijacked globally in 2015 to 13. According to the latest statistics, while more than a third of incidents reported to The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) took place off the coast of Indonesia, the majority of these related to low-level, opportunistic thefts from vessels rather than hijackings.
Singaporean authorities have reportedly been notified about all cases of armed targeting that took place last weekend.