Piracy And Armed Robbery Against Ships In Asia 2017

Main Messages:

  • Ninety-nine incidents occurred in Asia during 2017. 1 This represents a 23 percent decrease in overall incidents from 2016, and a 51 percent decrease from 2015.
  • Only three incidents of hijacking for cargo theft were recorded during 2017. Kidnapping declined significantly from 22 incidents recorded in 2016 to just four incidents in 2017.
  • The sharp decrease in overall incidents can be attributed, at least in part, to the actions of local law enforcement and military actors. In total, regional law enforcement responded to 27 of the 99 incidents—a high response rate of 27 percent.

In 2017, Oceans Beyond Piracy documented 99 incidents of piracy and armed robbery in Asia. For the purposes of this report, OBP defines the Asia region as the area from the eastern coast of India to the Banda Sea in Indonesia. Incidents occurring on the west coast of India have been included in the Western Indian Ocean region of the report.


Mapping Of Attacks In Asia

Total Piracy Attacks in Asia


Overview: Incidents In Asia

total piracy incidents in asia 2017
total piracy by robbery 2017 Asia
Piracy robbery by location Asia 2017


Piracy by Vessel Type Asia 2017
Piracy Robbery Incidents Asia 2017



Human Cost Asia

In 2017, 1,908 seafarers were affected by piracy and armed robbery in Asia, signifying a decrease from the previous year. Incident types in which the number of seafarers affected decreased from 2016 to 2017 include robbery, failed boarding and attacks, kidnapping, and suspicious activity.

Seafarers Exposed to Piracy Asia 2017
Piracy Incident Type Asia 2017
Seafarers Exposed to Violence by Pirates Asia 2017
Piracy and Weapons Asia 2017

Asia: Crew Held Hostage

In 2017, 16 people from four separate incidents were held hostage in Asia. All four of the incidents took place in the Sulu-Celebes Sea region.

Nineteen incidents involved weapons. A total of 76 seafarers were threatened during kidnapping incidents, including one incident where attackers boarded a tug after firing at the vessel. In another incident, two crewmembers were wounded after attackers fired at the cabin doors.

  • Hostages kept for one day or less: 1
  • Hostages held for more than one day and confirmed as released: 9 (Duration of captivity in these instances ranged from four to 264 days)
  • Hostages not confirmed as released: 3
  • Hostages who died in captivity: 3

Asia: Seafarer Known Nationalities

This graphic represents the known nationalities of 661 2 of the 1,151 total seafarers exposed to piracy and armed robbery at sea in 2017 as reported to IMB. The nationalities of the remaining 490 are unverified.

Asian Nationality Piracy 2017



Economic Cost Asia

As with previous State of Piracy reports, Oceans Beyond Piracy did not calculate a total economic cost for piracy and armed robbery in Asia. While certain figures are included because they could be ascertained, some figures could not be calculated or reasonably estimated due to information constraints. The following table represents only the costs which could be ascertained by OBP.

Asia: Economic Costs 2017 (limited)

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) $23,138,010
Stolen Ship Stores, Crew Belongings, and Cargo $6,320,920
The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) Budget $2,256,228
Lost Wages $173,006

Asia: The Issue of Kidnapping Incidents

In 2016, OBP recorded an alarming increase in kidnapping in the Sulu-Celebes Sea. In 2017, the incidents in this region decreased significantly, likely due to Abu Sayyaf and affiliated armed militants refocusing their efforts on the siege of Marawi City, as well as increased patrols and security measures taken by littoral states and industry. In response to the kidnappings in 2016 and the movement of armed militants throughout the region the following measures were implemented:

Trilateral Patrols

Since the establishment of the 2016 Sulu Sea Patrol Initiative (also known as INDOMALPHI), Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines have been engaged in joint patrols to curb abductions and prevent the movement of armed militants in the region. The three countries have also established trilateral air patrols, which were launched in October 2017. 3 Since then, nations such as Singapore, Japan, and Australia have offered to either join the regional patrols or aid local actors. These three nations have also established Maritime Command Centers in Bongao, Tawau, and Tarakan. 4

Location of Asia Maritime Command Centers

asia maritime command centers
Source: ReCAAP Annual Report 2017


Coastal State Embarked Personnel

To help protect ships transiting the Moro Gulf, the Philippine Coast Guard deployed 16 sea marshals in Central Visayas to escort six commercial ships each month between Mindanao and Cebu. 5 The average cost per embarkation for a four-day roundtrip in the Philippines is between $13,000 and $15,000, with an added $400-$500 for every additional day that the transit takes.

Security Guard Transfer Points and Shipping Routes

Security Guard Transfer Points and Shipping Routes
SE Asia Maritime Security Solutions: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/se-asia-maritime-security-solutions-lee-r...


Recapture of Marawi City

On 23 May 2017, armed militants led by leaders of the Abu Sayyaf and Maute groups refocused their efforts on land and took over the city of Marawi in the southern Philippines. The Philippine armed forces engaged the militants and, with the support of regional and international actors, eventually freed the city on 23 October 2017.

Regional Guide to Counter Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia

Over the past year, ReCAAP, Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF), and a host of other organizations published the Regional Guide to Counter Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia. The purpose of the report is to assist companies, owners, masters, agents, and seafarers in avoiding, deterring, and delaying piracy and armed robbery incidents in Asia. 6

Recommended Transit Corridors

In 2017, the three signatories of the Trilateral Cooperative Arrangement (Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines) established a ship reporting system and a recommended transit corridor (RTC) between the Moro Gulf and Basilan Strait, as well as in the Sibutu passage, to ensure the safe passage of commercial traffic. The three countries also published emergency guidance and protocols for ships transiting the RTC. 7

Inbound and Outbound Transit Lanes of the RTC

Inbound and Outbound Transit Lanes of the RTC
Source: ReCAAP Annual Report 2017


Proposed Transit Corridors - Philippines & Malaysia

Proposed Transit Corridors - Philippines & Malaysia
Source: ReCAAP Annual Report 2017


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