Crew abduction continues in Sulu and Eastern Sabah sea

ReCAAP ISC issued the third part of its “Abducting of crew from ships in the Sulu-Celebes Sea and waters off Eastern Sabah” special report, in order to provide an analysis of the situation involving the abduction of crew from ships in these areas, based on past incidents reported to the ReCAAP between March 2016 and March 2017.


  • Incidents involving the abduction of crew from ships in the Sulu-Celebes Sea and waters off eastern Sabah were first reported in March 2016, and these continue to occur. A total of 22 incidents comprising 13 actual incidents and 9 attempted incidents had been reported to the ReCAAP ISC. A total of 58 crew had been abducted; and as of 31 March 2017, 37 crew had been released and 21 crew are still being held in captivity.
  • For the first six months (between March and September 2016), fishing trawlers and tug boats towing barges were targeted. However, from October 2016 onwards, larger tonnage ships including bulk carrier, general cargo ship, container ship and product tanker were targeted. Most of these larger tonnage ships managed to avoid boarding by conducting evasive manoeuvres and implementing effective anti-piracy measures.
  • About 80% of the incidents occurred during daylight hours, and in most incidents the perpetrators did not harm the crew except in three incidents involving Giang Hai, where two crew were killed, and Henry and Royal 16 where the crew had suffered some injuries. The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was reportedly to be behind most of these incidents. There is no evidence to suggest that particular flag ship or nationality of crew were targeted.


Prior to entering the area, ship masters are advised to conduct voyage risk assessment, conduct drill on ship protection measures, prepare emergency communication plan, etc; taking reference from the ‘Regional Guide to Counter Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia’. The ship masters and crew are advised to adopt the following measures when in the area:

  1. Enhance vigilance, maximise alertness of lookouts and increase watch keeping
  2. Maintain continuous communication with shipping company and enforcement agencies for monitoring and immediate responses in any eventualities
  3. Control the access to bridge, accommodation and machinery spaces
  4. Sound alarm when sighted suspicious boats in the vicinity or suspicious persons on board ship
  5. Avoid confrontation with perpetrators
  6. Look out for advisories issued on NAVTEX
  7. Report all incidents to nearest coastal State and flag State in accordance with the IMO circular MSC.1/Circ.1334 on ‘Guidance to ship owners, ship operators, ship masters and crew on preventing and suppressing acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships’

Further information may be found by reading the full report:











Source: Safety4Sea