Sea robbery and piracy related incidents in Asia rose 9% year on year to 25 in the first quarter of 2023 due to more of such attacks in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, an international watchdog monitoring the trend said late April 27.
More than 75% of these incidents took place in the Singapore Straits, according to ReCAAP, the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia. Its share was 65% and 60% in the whole of 2022 and 2021, the data showed.
ReCAAP’s data is important because it is closely tracked by commercial shipping companies, security officials, maritime analysts and ship and cargo insurance providers because it has a bearing on the overall risk assessment and insurance premium.
There is a need to increase patrols and enforcements, respond promptly to incidents, strengthen coordination among various countries and arrest and prosecute perpetrators, Krishnaswamy Natarajan, ReCAAP’s executive director said at the Piracy and Sea Robbery conference.
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The incidents in the Singapore Straits are a matter of real concern due to its potential impact on the safety of navigation, Elfian Harun, a regional manager with Intertanko said at the conference.
In the Gulf of Guinea, piracy attacks started again after a lull of 12 to 18 months, Ashok Srinivasan, a manager with Bimco added.
Bimco and Intertanko are global shipping industry associations.
Singapore, located along one of the world’s busiest waterways, has close to 1,000 ships anchored there at any given time. A ship calls at Singapore port every 2-3 minutes, bringing the total to around 130,000 ships a year and making it critical for maritime passage in the region to be piracy-free.
The release of ReCAAP’s annual data comes at a time when Asia’s maritime security is under sharp focus, particularly in the aftermath of the attack on tankers near the Persian Gulf in recent years, where the shipping insurance rates are firm due to an additional war risk premium.
Insurance premiums vary from ship to ship depending on its age and depreciation, but maritime insurance executives said given the prevailing situation, any decline is unlikely.
Natarajan said that ship masters and crew must maximize alertness of lookouts and report all incidents to the nearest coastal states immediately.
When contacted, tanker brokers in Singapore reiterated that most incidents that occurred at the Straits of Melaka and Singapore were categorized as armed robbery rather than high-intensity piracy or terrorism.