Increased kidnap threat in S E Asia

Another serious daylight attack on a merchant ship took place in the Sulu Sea- Celebes area on Sunday 19th February when pirates boarded the bulk carrier Giang Hai killing one crew member and abducting six officers and crew.

The 2,875 gt bulk carrier on voyage to the Philippines with a cement cargo was 35 nautical miles north west of Doc Can Island (06° 8.0’ N, 119° 24’ E) when the unidentified pirates took the Master, Chief Officer, Third Officer, Second Engineer and two other crew members.  The pirates shot one crew member dead and ransacked the ship destroying communications and navigation equipment before escaping.

No group has claimed responsibility, but the location of the attack is within the known operational area of the Abu Sayyaf group.

Philippine coastguard has launched a pursuit in coordination with the military and police although the location of the kidnapped crew and the identity of the armed men remain unknown.

This tragic case is the first instance in this area where a crew member has been killed.  A similar attack took place in November 2016 ( 06° 7.4’ N,  122° 39’E ) where ten pirates intercepted the 3,000 gt general cargo ship MV Royal 16 capturing the master and five other officers and crew and wounding another crew member.  The fate of those six kidnapped victims is unknown.

Local security organisation ReCAAP ISC had previously advised owners to re-route from the Sulu-Celebes Sea region where possible.  Their incident report and general advisory on piracy & kidnap threats in the area are attached to this web page.

Masters and crew are strongly urged to exercise extra vigilance while transiting the area.  All vessels should report to the Philippine authorities and Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) prior to entering or passing the Sibutu Passage and Sulu-Celebes Sea.


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