| Code: 16714 |

TIN news:   ReCAAP ISC released a special report on incidents of siphoning of fuel/oil at sea in Asia.
 
The trend of incidents involving siphoning of fuel/oil from product and oil tankers at sea is not new. Statistics for Jan - Jul of 2014 reveal that the occurrence of such incidents took place more frequently compared to the annual numbers reported in the past three years (2011-2013).
 
Attributing to the surge in the number of incidents are various factors, including the market price of fuel/oil, the demand for fuel/oil in underground markets, the absence of authorities in locations where the siphoning occurred which in most instances, were outside areas of jurisdiction.
 
Incidents involving siphoning of fuel/oil (2011-2014)

Between 2011 and Jul 2014, a total of 16 incidents of siphoning of fuel/oil were reported, of which 11 incidents of siphoning were successfully carried out. The other five incidents were foiled because of timely intervention by enforcement agencies arising from timely reporting of the incidents to the ReCAAP ISC or the authorities who triggered the relevant agencies to promptly respond to the incident. In other unsuccessful cases, the crew exercised enhanced vigilance by triggering the Ship Security Alert System (SSAS), or reporting the incident to vessels in the vicinity immediately. Of the 11 successful incidents of siphoning reported during 2011- 2014, one occurred in 2011, one in 2012, two in 2013 and seven in 2014.
 
Location of incidents

Notably, majority of the incidents occurred in the South China Sea (SCS). Of the 11 incidents reported during 2011-Jul 2014, seven occurred in the SCS, two in Indonesia, one in Malaysia and one in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS). The SCS was far away from shore, and outside the area of jurisdiction of regional authorities who would require more time to arrive at the location of the incident. This worked in favour of the pirates who could ‘buy time’ in carrying out their siphoning activities, and escaped before the arrival of the authorities.
 
Time of Incident
Of the 16 incidents, 13 occurred during hours of darkness (between 1935 hrs and 0530 hrs), while three incidents occurred during daylight hours (between 1120 hrs and 1700 hrs). While time and location are considered as main factors in the success of any planned activities, the ReCAAP ISC notes that there was no co-relation between time of incident and the location of boarding.
 
Modus Operandi of Pirates/Robbers (2011-Jul 2014)
By and large, the pirates/robbers adopted quite similar modus operandi in terms of the composition of the pirate/robber group, the treatment of crew, the weapons used and the modes of boarding. Most groups comprised not less than five, the highest being 16 men in the incident involving Sri Phangnga. Of the 16 incidents, eight of them reported that the pirates/robbers were armed with handguns or pistols and knives or parangs (long knives). Except in the case involving Zafirah in 2012 where the crew were abandoned into a life raft, and Sri Phangnga where the master suffered minor injuries, the crew in the other incidents were not harmed. However, they were threatened, tied and locked up. In majority of the reported incidents, the pirates/robbers boarded the tankers while underway, tied the crew and locked them in the cabin, took over control of the tankers and transferred the oil/fuel to another tanker or barge that would come alongside.
 
Foot-prints-of-robbersIn the incident involving Scorpio, a Kiribati registered tanker, the robbers impersonated as crew of Scorpio in selling the MFO onboard to other tankers. While at anchor, the robbers boarded Scorpio, tied the crew and ordered the master to weigh anchor and proceed to another location when another tanker Sea Jade came alongside Scorpio. A crew of Scorpio was ordered to assist in the transfer of the MFO from Scorpio to Sea Jade while the other 11 crew was locked up inside the tanker’s mess room.
 
Of the 16 incidents, three tankers had their names repainted over and renamed to mask their identities while siphoning was carried out. They were chemical tanker, Zafirah which was reportedly renamed to ‘MT SEAHORSE' and her IMO number changed from ‘9016387' to ‘9016081', Danai 4 renamed DAN; and Orapin 4 renamed RAPI.
 
Economic Losses
Due to the high market price and taxes imposed on fuel/oil, illegal siphoning has been a lucrative business. So long there are demands for fuel/oil in underground markets, siphoning incidents would occur unless a holistic approach is adopted to tackle the problem by the authorities and the shipping industry collectively. Between 2011 and Jul 2014, incidents whose amount of fuel/oil lost were reported and tabulated in Annex B.
 
Factors Contributed to Failure in Siphoning of Fuel/Oil
Of the five unsuccessful incidents of siphoning of fuel/oil, three occurred in 2012 involving Ai Maru on 5 Jun 12, Scorpio on 13 Sep 12 and Zafirah on 19 Nov 12; one occurred in 2013 involving Moresby 9 on 17 Aug 13, and one occurred in 2014 involving New Glory on 25 May 14. Among the factors that contribute towards these unsuccessful attempts in siphoning the fuel/oil onboard are: (a) vigilance of the crew to activate the SSAS and alert other vessels in the area; (b) timely reporting of the incident to the ReCAAP ISC and the authorities, (c) ReCAAP ISC’s prompt circulation of Incident Alerts to inform and warn Mariners about the incidents; (d) ReCAAP ISC’s operational coordination with the ReCAAP Focal Points, Information Fusion Centre (IFC) and the regional authorities in response to the incident, and lastly, (e) the speedy follow-up action by the authorities.
 
Incidents involving Scorpio and Moresby 9 were foiled by the timely intervention of MMEA. In both cases, the robbers fled when sighting the MMEA patrol boats in the area. Almost 750 metric tons of MFO had been siphoned from Scorpio to tanker, Sea Jade when the MMEA patrol boat arrived and the six robbers fled in their speed boat leaving behind six long knives and Sea Jade. In the incident involving Moresby 9, 10 robbers boarded the product tanker at about 1.83 nm southeast of Tanjung Ramunia, Malaysia, sailed to Pulau Lima when the Chief Officer activated the SSAS and alerted other vessels anchored in the vicinity. The robbers fled when seeing an MMEA patrol boat approaching Moresby 9.
 
Timely reporting of incidents to the ReCAAP ISC by owners of tanker, Ai Maru and chemical tanker, Zafirah enable the ReCAAP ISC to alert the enforcement agencies who intercepted and dispatched their assets to the location of the incidents. In the incident involving Zafirah, the Vietnamese Marine Police and relevant agencies dispatched two patrol boats to the location, boarded the tanker and apprehended the 11 pirates onboard.
 
In the incident involving Ai Maru, a Honduras registered product tanker while underway at approximately 30nm off Horsburgh Lighthouse, South China Sea in 2012, six pirates boarded the tanker from two wooden speed boats. The pirates took control of the vessel, and the Chief Officer managed to contact the sister ship Naniwa Maru who informed the owner, in turn reported the incident to the ReCAAP ISC. In response, the regional authorities dispatched their assets to the location. The pirates escaped without siphoning the MGO when noticed a small aircraft flown overhead in the vicinity.
 
For a second time, Ai Maru was boarded again in the South China Sea on 14 Jun 2014. The timely reporting by the ship owner enabled the ReCAAP ISC to alert the Focal Point of Singapore, the Information Fusion Centre (IFC) and the enforcement agency (Republic of Singapore Navy) as well as the maritime authorities from Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia who responded to the incident by deploying their assets to the location of the incident. Although the authorities were close to arrest the pirates, this incident demonstrated the cooperative mechanism of the littoral States in information sharing and close operational cooperation in responding to transnational maritime incidents.
 
As for the incident involving New Glory on 25 May 14, it was a case of the perpetuators had the wrong information of the type of cargo carried onboard the tanker. The perpetuators left the tanker after discovering that the cargo onboard was asphalt instead of diesel.

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