Marine intelligence specialist Dryad Maritime has issued a warning of an increasing threat from Southeast Asia piracy following the release of their second quarter figures, which show that the area continues to experience the highest number of maritime crime incidents in 2014 when compared to other traditional piracy hot spots.
Dryad said it issued the warning “in the wake of the most recent hijack of a tanker, (MT Moresby 9), off the Anambas Islands on 4th July, when pirates boarded the vessel taking the crew hostage before stealing part of the 2200 ton cargo of Marine Gas Oil (MGO). The location of the vessel is still unknown.”
The bulletin noted that this year alone “has seen 12 reported cases of vessels being boarded underway and a further 19 reports of robberies, attempted robberies or suspicious approaches in the anchorages to the east of the Singapore Strait. The MT Ai Maru became the fifth product tanker to be hijacked since April 2014 when it was attacked at the end of last month.”
According to public policy think-tank the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability (NISS), the increase in piracy in Southeast Asia is attributed to a number of causes. These include; “over-fishing, poor maritime regulation, organized crime syndicates, widespread poverty and politically motivated groups. In addition, the NISS say the rise in trade in Southeast Asian waters adds further incentive for pirates. Overall trade in ASEAN increased by 16.8 per cent to US$2.1 trillion (S$2.6 trillion) in 2011 from 2010. In particular, ASEAN exports of mineral fuels and oils as well as their distilled products were worth US$228 billion in 2011.”
The increased threat in the area comes as Dryad Maritime is making plans to open new offices in the Asia Pacific region, providing regional companies with better access to their expanding suite of products and services.
Dryad’s COO Ian Millen commented: “Our team of analysts have assessed that at least one gang is operating to the east of Singapore, hijacking small product tankers and stealing fuel cargoes. These criminals have knowledge in the workings of ships’ equipment and procedures for carrying out STS transfers. Without more proactive efforts by local maritime forces to counter this crime, we predict further incidents of this type in the region.”
Dryad Maritime are also warning seafarers transiting the southern Philippines and adjacent coasts to maintain vigilance following the attack on the yacht, MY Catherine, during Q2.
Dryad’s Head of Operations Mike Edey explained: “Abu Sayyaf continues to operate with impunity. Although the majority of their activity centers on coastal terrorist attacks, the kidnap of a German couple from MY Catherine serves as a reminder of the need for caution. Whilst there is no evidence that Abu Sayyaf will start to target larger, commercial vessels in the region, as a politically motivated group the possibility to develop such a capability remains”.
Dryad’s warning comes as the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) is reported to have initiated routing measures for commercial vessels to help improve maritime security in the region.
On a more positive noted Dryad reported “better news” in the Horn of Africa section of its quarterly figures; notably “the release of the remaining 11 crew members from MV Albedo. The bulletin commended “those involved in the release of the seafarers and support of their families;” noting that “after almost four years in captivity and having seen other crew members released in 2012, the remaining crew endured extended misery that included the sinking of their ship, as well as the death and disappearance of other crew members.”
Millen said the “release of Albedo’s remaining crew has been great news, but it highlights the good, the bad and the tragic in the story of Somali piracy. Good in that we have seen charities such as the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Program (MPHRP) work tirelessly with others to support the seafarers and their families; bad in that the owner of the vessel reportedly abandoned the crew resulting in a longer than necessary captivity and tragic in that approximately 40 seafarers remain in captivity. Seafarers who get precious little attention from the wider media or general public. We must not forget them.”
Source: Dryad Maritime