The ReCAAP ISC warns operators to ‘exercise extra vigilance’ when transiting the Sulu-Celebes Sea and eastern Sabah region, following a recent incident of armed robbery on board the product tanker MS Sophie off Batangas. ReCAAP ISC also advises ship masters and crew to exercise vigilance especially during hours of darkness, increase number of crew on night watch and secure ship’s store while in port and in anchorage.
In particular, the incident of armed robbery was reported to ReCAAP ISC on 15 Jun after after further verification with the port state control officers based in Batangas who received report of the incident from the ship master.
While at anchor, the Bosun Watch was approaching the forecastle when he noticed that the additional wooden cover of the anchor pipe was removed and the rope was cut. The padlock of Bosun store was also broken. It was believed that the perpetrators were either of small size or very thin to be able to remove the wooden cover which is approximately 30×20 cm. The ship items that found missing included the forecastle bell, fire nozzles and fire hydrant covers.
The crew of MS Sophie was not injured.
A total of 36 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported during the first half of 2017 in Asia, compared to a total of 46 incidents reported during January-June 2016, which means a decrease of 22%, according to ReCAAP’s ISC latest half-yearly report.
In transiting the Sulu-Celebes Seas, the ReCAAP ISC advises ships to report to:
1) the Philippine Coast Guard District in Southwestern Mindanao Operation Centre in Zamboanga;
2) the Philippine Navy – Littoral Monitoring Station (LMS) based in Bongao, TawiTawi; and
3) the Eastern Sabah Security Command in Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia.