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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

South China Sea Piracy: Fuel Thefts at Sea

Hijacking tankers to steal their cargo at sea is one of the newer games in pirate town. We've seen it off Nigeria in the Gulf of Guinea and there have been a couple of instances in the waters near Pulau Batam, Indonesia or in the Strait of Malacca (see here). A couple of weeks ago there was another incident off Pulau Batam. as reported by the ICC Commercial Crime Services International Maritime Bureau here. Maps are from the IMB Live Piracy Map or here.
© Geir Vinnes
The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) provides more detail in its Incident Update (Orapin 4) (pdf):
The shipping company informed the ReCAAP Focal Point (Thailand) who in turn reported to the ReCAAP ISC that at or about 0200 hrs (local time) on 28 May 14, 10 pirates armed with guns and knives boarded the tanker from a speed boat at a location which was about 19 nm off Indonesia in the South China Sea (exact location was not mentioned). The pirates painted the ship name from ORAPIN 4 to RAPI, and destroyed the communication equipment onboard, with intention to mask the identity of the tanker and cut off all communications while at sea. The pirates tied the crew and proceeded to the bridge to control the tanker. Another tanker came alongside and approximately 3,700 metric tonnes of ADF was siphoned from Orapin 4.
As previously noted, this type of hijack and siphon requires a remarkable degree of logistical planning and indicates to me that a well-organized crime syndicate is involved.

The area around Singapore has been active in 2014, though most of the activity has been sneak thieves getting aboard ships a taking anything not welded to the deck that can be easily snatched and taken to a small boat. Those red flags mark the two tanker jacks this year in this area:

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