Pirate Attacks in Southeast Asia at Highest Level in Five Years

FPSO oil production vessel

(DGIwire) — According to an anti-piracy watchdog group, pirate attacks in Southeast Asian waters—particularly near Malaysia—reached their highest level ever over the past half-decade. The number of pirate attacks in the Malacca Strait increased twofold during the first three months of 2015, according to the Singapore-based Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP).

ReCAAP said that, including the South China Sea, more than 25 instances of piracy or other ocean robberies occurred between January and March 2015. In their most recent data release, ReCAAP showed a 19 percent increase in pirate attacks in Southeast Asia since April 2015, with the Malacca Strait emerging as the most dangerous corridor.

According to ReCAAP, pirates typically attack in a large gang armed with guns or parang—a type of machete indigenous to Indonesia and Malaysia—overwhelming the ship’s crew prior to taking them hostage by tying them up and/or locking them in a secure area.

In a majority of the reported incidents, the pirates boarded the tan­kers while at sea, took over control of the tankers and transferred the oil/fuel to another tanker or barge that would come alongside, ReCAAP wrote in its report.

In the two weeks prior to June 15, 2015, pirates took control of two Malaysian oil tankers near Pulau Aur, Johor. Orkim Victory was on a diesel run from Kuantan to Malacca before being hijacked near Pulau Aur. Those familiar with the situation think that Orkim Harmony, a second vessel operated by the same company that has been out of contact since June 11, has also fallen victim to a pirate attack.

Armed men attacked a pair of oil tankers in May 2015, siphoning off almost 4,546 metric tons of oil and fuel from the Ocean Energy around Port Dickson, Negri Sembilan, and the Oriental Glory close to Bruit Island, Sarawak. Oceans Beyond Piracy, another anti-piracy collective, claimed in its 2014 survey that Southeast Asian piracy comprised 73 percent of all sea robbery incidents worldwide. The Malacca Strait accounted for more than 50 percent of such cases. Pirates in that region often showed “blatant disregard” for their victims’ welfare, causing injury in almost 33 percent of the cases.

“Stopping piracy is more than a question of protecting property,” says Gregory E. Sancoff, president and CEO of Juliet Marine Systems. “When human life and limb are at stake, can we possibly respond with anything less than the fullest available force?”

Juliet Marine is a developer of innovative maritime technology based in Portsmouth, NH.  The company has developed GHOST, a high-speed surface craft equipped with cutting-edge naval technology and capable of defending vessels in every body of water worldwide. GHOST is equipped to handle threats posed by the small arms usually carried by pirates. Its high speed—and the fact that it is virtually undetectable even at short range by radar—makes it an ideal seacraft for protecting civilian craft.

“Deploying military-grade ships to protect against pirates could be critical in avoiding the shedding of innocent blood and the theft of stolen fuel on the high seas,” adds Sancoff.