Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hijackers Increase Attacks on Bulk Tankers in Asian Waters

US Joins International Anti-Piracy Effort
Shipping News Feature

US – ASIA – The US has become the twentieth nation to join the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP). 2013 saw a total of 150 incidents in Asian waters, 90 of which happened between January and September, many copying the Niger Delta model of robbing bulk tankers of their mineral oil cargoes. With upwards of 100 reported incidents so far this year, this partnership demonstrates the importance of international cooperation to effectively address the challenges in curbing the worrying trend of piracy.

Established in 2006, ReCAAP’s mission is to enhance regional cooperation through information sharing, capacity building and cooperative arrangements in combating piracy and armed robbery against ships in the region. It is the first government‐to‐government agreement to promote this type of enhanced collaboration for fighting piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Paul Thomas, the Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy, will represent the US as a Governor on the ReCAAP council. In announcing the cooperation, Thomas said:

“The United States’ acceptance as part of the ReCAAP Governing Council continues our administration’s move to deepen our diplomatic, security and people-to-people ties with key Asian multilateral organisations.”

As piracy has gradually been reduced down to the odd isolated incident off the African coast, thanks largely to cooperation between organised naval forces, the use of Best Management Practices and the carriage of armed security personnel by ships transiting danger areas such as the Indian Ocean off the Somali coast and beyond, so Asian piracy has continued to steadily increase.

With much of the world’s sea borne oil travelling through the Straits of Singapore and Malacca these bottlenecks provide an ideal hunting ground for hijackers determined to siphon off the valuable cargoes. Robert Gauvin, Executive Director of Piracy Policy at the US Coast Guard said:

“The high-risk waters of the Strait of Malacca are a concern for our US-flagged ships ,joining ReCAAP will provide a higher level of security and lessening of the threat to those vessels."

Photo: With hundreds of ships crammed into the Straits pickings can be rich, and easy, for would be attackers.