Ten robberies in the Singapore Strait in the first seven weeks of 2022
Sea robberies and boarding of vessels underway in the Singapore Straits continue, with the region’s reporting agency issuing alerts to seafarers and warning of the need for heightened vigilance and maintaining vigilance during the transit through the Singapore Strait. ReCAAP ISC has issued repeated warnings of consistent low-level crimes against vessels in 2021, and today issued a new alert signaling a further increase in activity in 2022.
According to the latest incident alert, there have been nine successful boardings of vessels and a tenth attempt in seven weeks since the start of 2022, all in the area around the Singapore Strait. Seven of the incidents occurred in the eastbound lane of the strait and four of them occurred in a tightly clustered area off Nongsa Point on Indonesia’s Batam Island. ReCCAP reports that these four incidents all occurred over a 10-day period between February 8 and February 18, with three occurring on consecutive days between February 16 and February 18.
“The ReCCAP ISC is concerned about the continued incidents in the Singapore Strait, particularly the increase in incidents off Nongsa,” the watchdog wrote in its Feb. 21 report. “Given that the perpetrators are not arrested, it is possible that incidents will continue in the Singapore Strait.”
Despite the persistence of activity, ReCAAP notes that everything is at the low level of severity because no crew member was threatened or injured. Typically, reports say the crew spotted between two and five people on board while their ships are underway. They target the engine room or store lockers and in most cases are frightened when sighted or the ship sounds its alarm. In two of the recent reports, both incidents on Bintan Island, the perpetrators were allegedly armed with knives or one of them had a long knife.
They are targeting a wide range of vessels with several bulk carriers and tankers claiming to have been boarded, but this also includes tugs and vessels supporting offshore industries. In the case of a tug and a barge, a single perpetrator allegedly stole scrap metal from the barge while on a bulk carrier. Theodore Oldendroff the crew saw two boarders who allegedly stole spare engine parts.
ReCAAP urges states in the region to increase patrols and law enforcement in their territorial waters. The ICC’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reported that overall piracy activity was at a 28-year low in 2021, but it also pointed to an increase in armed robbery activity in the world. Singapore Strait. The area remains one of the most dangerous for sailors. In its annual report, the IMB said that in 2021 there had been a 50% increase with 35 incidents against vessels sailing in the busy traffic lane, which was the highest number of incidents reported. since 1992.