The Vietnam Maritime Administration has ordered port authorities across the country to inform ship owners and maritime transport companies of the increasing number of crew abduction incidents in regional waters.
It said it had received a special report by ReCAAP (Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia) Information Sharing Center on the matter, citing three incidents in the coastal areas off eastern Sabah and the southern Philippines within a period of three weeks, from March 26 to April 15.
The incidents occurred on board tug boat Brahma 12 on March 26, tug boat Massive 6 on April 1 and tug boat Henry on April 15, according to the report.
The Indonesian tug Brahma 12 was hijacked while being on its way from Sungai Puting, South Kalimatan to Batangas, South Philippines. It was released soon after, however, its 10 crew members are still being held by the hijackers, with their whereabouts unknown, according to the news website World Maritime News.
In the latest incident, on April 15, the Indonesian-registered Henry from Cebu, Philippines to Tarakan, Indonesia was boarded by armed perpetrators from a speedboat at approximately 25 nautical miles southwest off Sitangkai Island, Tawi-tawi.
The tug boat was fired at, and one of the crew was injured and four others abducted. The Malaysian Maritime Police in Sabah assisted in bringing the wounded crew to a hospital for treatment.
The ReCAAP center has encouraged the port authorities, littoral States’ enforcement agencies to continuously beef up their surveillance, intensify patrols. It also urged the shipping industry to exercise strict vigilance when operating in the areas of concern.