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Ships moored in the Singapore Strait. There were 33 reported incidents in the first nine months of this year, up from 31 in the same period the year before.
ON OCT 27, a sea robbery onboard a Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier was reported to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), which is operated by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA). This happened in the Strait of Malacca, outside Singapore’s territorial waters, at about 4.30 am, as the vessel was headed for Singapore.

Details are sketchy, but the MRCC directed the vessel to anchor off western Singapore for a search by the Police Coast Guard. Nothing was reported missing, but the ship’s master was injured, and had to be taken ashore for medical treatment. An MPA statement at the time said that he was in “stable” condition.
His injury was not fatal, but the violent nature of the attack is a cause for concern, amid a rise in piracy globally and in the waters off Singapore; the fall in the number of attacks on ships, reported at the start of the year, is reversing and headed north again.

Incidentally, the terminology can be confusing. A “sea robbery” (or “armed robbery”) is one that happens within territorial waters. The word “piracy” is reserved for incidents that take place in international waters, or “the high seas”. Both the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) make this distinction. However, the MPA characterised the Oct 27 incident as a “sea robbery”, though it took place outside Singapore’s territorial waters.

Actually, the terminology does not matter when a ship is being boarded, usually in the dark, by armed criminals hell-bent on doing harm to the crew and stealing property. The concern now is that attacks on ships are not only continuing to happen, but are increasing in frequency.Last month, the International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) of the International Chamber of Commerce published its report on such incidents in the first nine months of this year. Two areas were singled out for a rise in reported incidents – the Gulf of Guinea (part of the eastern tropical Atlantic Ocean off the western African coast) and the Singapore Strait. Ninety-nine incidents of piracy and armed robberies against ships were reported during the period, up from 90 incidents for the corresponding period in 2022.

Source: David Hughes