Southeast Asia
 
Eight incidents of piracy and robbery of vessels were reported in Southeast Asia in April 2018. A fishing vessel was hijacked in the Straits of Malacca. Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) intercepted the fishing vessel and arrested five Indonesian nationals.  Two attempted robberies were reported in and on approach of the Singapore Straits. Two robberies and two attempted robberies were reported at Muara Berau Anchorage, Samarinda, Indonesia. An attack and a suspicious approach were reported off the Paracel Islands. During the attack on a fishing vessel off the islands equipment and the catch were also stolen. It is however likely that the incident is linked to the conflicting claims on the Paracel Islands between China and Viet Nam.

24 April 2018 - At 19:00LT the MMEA received a distress call from the Malaysian  Fishing Boat, JHF 2529. Five men armed with guns and machetes boarded the boat from a wooden boat 15nm SW of Tanjung Laboh, Malaysia and hijacked the vessel. They sailed towards Indonesia. They demanded a ransom of RM 30 000 (US$ 7 600) from the three crew members. MMEA dispatched a patrol vessel. With the help of Indonesian authorities the vessel was released at 01:00LT on 25 April 2018. According to the MMEA this is one of seven similar cases reported from the beginning of 2017. The attackers target fishing vessels close to the border between Malaysia and Indonesia.1

Incidents off Paracel Islands

6 April 2018 - A Hong Kong flagged Catamaran, Swiss Prestige reported that they were approached at approximately 15 knots on a parallel course by a vessel Hong Lrut off the Paracel Islands. They made a distress call and increased speed to 8 knots. A cruise liner, Diamond Princess responded to the distress call. The vessel moved away shortly after. AIS regularly place a Vietnamese flagged fishing vessel named Hong Lrut TD8669USB at Da Nang, Viet Nam. Records on the vessel are conflicting - records show either a 8m or 20m vessel. The sign TD8669USB is also linked to another 20m vessel or the same vessel could have two names. Piracy against sailing vessels around the Paracel islands are uncommon. It is likely that the incident is not related to piracy.2

20 April 2018 - A Fishing boat from Binh Chau, Viet Nam reported that they were rammed by two Chinese vessels 7 nm off the Paracel Islands near Lincoln Island. Five Chinese men with guns boarded their boat and made them sign documents. They also seized equipment and the catch. They left after an hour, but the fishing boat was sinking due to damage sustained from the ramming. They made a distress call to the owner of the boat Nguyen Chinh. He found them in the half submerged fishing boat and took them back to land. Several attacks on Vietnamese fishing vessels by armed Chinese vessels were reported in recent years. Vessels are often sank and equipment stolen. Although this can be regarded as piracy, the main motive is related to Chinese territorial control of the Paracel Islands.3

Kidnap Warning

ReCAAP issued a warning on 1 May 2018 cautioning vessels transiting waters off Sabah, Malaysia of planned kidnappings by Abu Sayyaf. The source of the information is the Philippine Focal Point. According to them the kidnappers are using a blue speedboat with three engines.4

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