Asia & Oceania

Incidents against ships in the Singapore Strait

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The ReCAAP website is very interesting - check the Warnings & Alerts; Interactive Incident Map; and Report Incidents at the end of this article


Asian piracy reporting organization ReCAAP ISC has issued a special report on piracy incidents in the Singapore Strait, noting that since 2019 and continuing into 2020 there had been a sharp increase in the number of incidents of robbery and theft against ships while underway in the Singapore Strait.

In 2019 there were 31 reported incidents while up to November 22nd this year there had been 33 incidents reported. in 2020 as of 20 Nov. Nearly all of the 33 incidents reported during January-November 2020 were acts of petty burglary and were allocated the lowest level of severity (category 4) – an indication that the perpetrators were not armed and the crew not harmed]. However, ReCAAP ISC said that it was “seriously concerned with the continued occurrence of incidents in the Singapore Strait. In some incidents, perpetrators were persistent in committing crime by boarding two ships in a row within a short interval and in close proximity.”

ReCAAP said that, without the arrest of perpetrators, incidents were likely to continue to occur. As the table below shows, there was a spike to 99 incidents in 2015, and this was brought back to a very low number in 2016 by the simple expedient of arresting the perpetrators of most of the crimes. “This demonstrates that law enforcement is the best deterrence”, said ReCAAP. It noted that this year there had been one report of the arrest of perpetrators (in March), but no further arrests have been reported since then.

Of the 33 incidents reported this year to date, 29 occurred in the eastbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS), with just one incident in the westbound lane, two incidents in the precautionary area and one incident just south of the TSS.

Year Total incidents
2007 0
2008 7
2009 6
2010 7
2011 24
2012 12
2013 13
2014 47
2015 99
2016 2
2017 8
2018 7
2019 31
2020 (to Nov 22) 33

Contrarily, of the 31 incidents reported in 2019, 14 of incidents occurred in the westbound lane of the TSS (between February and August of 2019), while this moved to the eastbound lane for the remaining 17 incidents (between September and December 2019).

Forty of the 46 incidents in the eastbound lane involved bigger ships (bulk carriers, tankers and reefer vessels). All incidents in the westbound lane occurred to tug boats and barges.

In 20 of the 40 incidents involving bigger ships in the eastbound lane, perpetrators were sighted in the engine room. The perpetrators stole engine spares from the engine room in eight of the 20 incidents. The perpetrators were opportunistic in nature and fled immediately when sighted by the crew. This meant that in 25 of the 46 incidents in the eastbound lane, the perpetrators left empty-handed.

All the 41 incidents in the Singapore Strait involving bigger ships occurred during hours of darkness.

In 19 of the 23 incidents involving barges towed by tug boats, the perpetrators stole unsecured items and stores from the barges. Of the 19 incidents, 13 occurred during daylight hours.


Alert on Maritime Piracy

Warnings & Alerts

View all Warnings and Alerts issued by ReCAAP ISC

Piracy Incidents

Interactive Incident Map

Search past incidents by date, location, ship name, etc, as reported to ReCAAP ISC

Piracy at Sea

Report Incidents

What is Piracy & Armed Robbery against Ships?
What to do if you encounter an incident?

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