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Singapore Strait sees uptick in sea robbery cases for 1H 2021 despite regional improvement

The Singapore Strait recorded an increase in the number of sea robbery cases for the first six months of 2021 despite an overall improvement in the maritime security situation across Asia during the same period.

According to figures released on 16 July by the intergovernmental piracy watchdog, Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), a total of 20 incidents were reported between January and June. This is an increase of four incidents compared to the 16 incidents reported during the same period in 2020.

In contrast, a total of 37 incidents of armed robbery against ships were reported during the same period across Asian waters, a decrease of 35% year on year from the 56 incidents recorded for the first six months of 2020.

ReCAAP has attributed the overall improvement across Asia mainly to a decrease in incidents at ports in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and the Sulu-Celebes Seas.

On the other hand, the deteriorating situation in the Singapore Strait was attributed to a continuation in the occurrence of hostile ship boardings while the target vessels were under way.

Vessels that were targeted by the perpetrators are varied, and these include bulk carriers, product tankers, general cargo ships, and tugboats and barges. A majority of the incidences took place during hours of darkness, and most of the perpetrators were armed with knives.

“Although the incidents are decreasing, the ReCAAP ISC encourages all the stakeholders to continue collaborative efforts such as upholding vigilance, making timely reporting by ships, and conducting quick response by coastal states in order to ensure maritime safety for the shipping community and safety of the seafarers,” said Masafumi Kuroki, executive director of ReCAAP, in a 16 July statement.

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