Dryad Maritime says piracy in Southeast Asia has taken a sinister twist with a marked increase in targeted hijackings.
It says the trend of boarding and hijacking of product tankers and fuel barges has re-emerged over the last six months.
The UK-based maritime intelligence provider makes the claims in its latest report: ‘Special advisory Southeast Asia. Disorganised theft to organised crime.’
“Analysis of these incidents has shown that the hijack of merchant vessels does not follow the same pattern as seen in the Horn of Africa where vessels and crew are taken to be ransomed back to their original owners,” says Dryad Maritime.
It says a concerning new trend is emerging in the region which sees “sophisticated, intelligence led hijackings, targeting vessels for their cargo or for the hull, to pre-arranged customers.”
Last year saw an 8.5% increase in maritime crime throughout Southeast Asia which now stands at 44% of all maritime based criminal activity reported worldwide.
“Our Southeast Asia special advisory is specifically designed to forewarn and equip maritime operators with the latest intelligence on the region which will allow them to plan their transits and assess risk accurately,” said Dryad Maritime chief operating officer Karen Jacques.
“Our analysts have collated intelligence from a wide range of sources to produce this unique and essential report into the growth of maritime crime in the region.”
“It highlights emerging areas of risk which cannot be treated with complacency and also provides clear advice that will enable masters and crew to implement new procedures that will help to significantly reduce risk.”
Dryad Maritime says the number of incidents of piracy or attempted piracy around the Malacca Strait has significantly reduced from 38 in 2004 to just two in 2012 thanks to greater effective collaboration between its littoral states.
“However, as a result criminal syndicates have now moved their operations to the Singapore Straits, the South China Sea and the Indonesian archipelago, where continued border disputes between neighbouring states have hindered attempts to fully integrate anti-piracy operations in the region.”
Dryad Maritime’s head of intelligence Ian Millen said analysis of such attacks has revealed significant differences in the modus operandi in both areas.
“Whilst low level opportunistic robbery of ships at anchor and alongside represents the majority of maritime crime in the region, it is organised, sophisticated piracy operations which are of the greatest concern,” says Millen.
“Analysis would suggest that organised criminal syndicates are targeting vessels for their cargo. This targeting suggests insider information detailing a ship’s cargo, intended route and transit times is being passed to criminals before the vessel has even put to sea.”
“Unlike piracy operations in the Horn of Africa, it is likely that an increasing majority of attacks are ‘made to order’ with buyers in place before the event takes place”.
Dryad Maritime suggests that attempts by the nations of Southeast Asia at reducing piracy and maritime crime, have “so far had limited effect”.
“A combination of complex archipelagic geography and under-resourced maritime security forces, all suggest this trend of increasing maritime criminal activity is likely to continue in the foreseeable future.”
“Until there is a concerted and consistent multi-national, multi-agency effort to combat the increasing threat of high end organised hijacking, those operating in the area should be particularly vigilant and ensure they are fully prepared and protected against all threats.”
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