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Singapore Strait piracy attacks account for one-third of global total

Singapore Strait piracy attacks account for one-third of global total
Adis Ajdin January 12, 2023

While global piracy and armed robbery attacks against commercial shipping continue to decline, Asia and specifically the Singapore Strait continue to be one of the areas of greater concern.

The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) recorded 115 incidents worldwide in 2022 – the lowest level recorded in almost three decades. However, half of them took place in Southeast Asian waters, where incidents continue to rise.

A third of all incidents reported last year occurred in the Singapore Straits, with underway vessels successfully boarded in all 38 incidents, up from 35 in 2021.

The majority of vessels boarded were over 50,000 dwt, including six laden vessels over 150,000 dwt. While these are considered low-level opportunistic crimes and fall under the definition of armed robbery, crews continue to be at risk, IMB noted. In the 38 reported incidents, two crewmembers were threatened and four were taken hostage for the duration of the incident. It has also been reported that in at least three incidents, a gun was used to threaten the crew.

“Being one of the most crucial and busy waterways for trade, these incidents continue to be a cause of concern as they not only have an impact on crew safety but also potential navigational and environmental consequences,” said IMB director Michael Howlett.

The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre added that it believes there is a degree of underreporting as well as late reporting of incidents in these waters and encouraged masters to report all incidents as early as possible.

Elsewhere, an overall decrease in incidents was recorded in the highly risky waters of the Gulf of Guinea – down from 35 in 2021 to 19 in 2022, but the IMB urged caution, pointing to two incidents in the last quarter of 2022.