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ReCAAP reports rise in number of sea robbery cases along Singapore Strait

An intergovernmental piracy watchdog has reported a rise in the number of sea robbery incidents in the Singapore Strait for 2021.

According to figures released by the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) on 18 January, there were 49 sea robbery incidents along the waterway in 2021.

This is an increase of 44% year-on-year from the 34 incidents reported for 2020, and none of the perpetrators in the 2021 incidents have been arrested, said ReCAAP.

The organisation did not specify the state that has jurisdiction over waters where the incidents have occurred, but Janes has since verified that all cases took place in Indonesian territorial waters along the Singapore Strait.

A majority of the incidents took place off Tanjung Pergam in Bintan Island. Perpetrators largely operated in groups of between 4 and 10 men, during hours of darkness, and were usually armed with knives.

The most common types of vessels boarded in the sea robberies were bulk carriers and product tankers, according to further figures released by ReCAAP.

Amid this rise in the number of cases, ReCAAP urged the littoral states of the Singapore Strait to increase patrols and enforcement, and promote co-ordination between the maritime services of the different countries. “Since the perpetrators are not arrested, incidents can continue to occur,” the organisation said.

Overall, there was a total of 82 incidents of armed robbery against ships reported in Asia in 2021, which represents a decrease of 15% compared with 2020.

The improvement can be attributed to an increase in enforcement actions by the littoral states, said ReCAAP. Regions off Bangladesh, the South China Sea, and the Sulu-Celebes seas recorded no incidents throughout 2021.

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