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The Information Fusion Centre (IFC) observed a spike in number of sea robbery and sea theft incidents in Manilla South Harbour Anchorage, Philippines, between April and August 2021.

Specifically, the 10 incidents recorded consist of six sea thefts and four sea robberies. Of note, the perpetrators involved in the latest four incidents were armed with weapons (gun or knife) and demonstrated a significant degree of violence against the crew.

There has been an observed increase in incidents within the Quarantine Anchorage in Manila this year, of which 80% targeted container vessels at night, with an increase in confrontation between the perpetrators and crew than previously observed. This Spot Commentary aims to provide awareness on this area of concern, including analytical insights into the incidents and the perpetrators’ observed modus operandi.

Area of Concern

All incidents occurred within the Manilla South Harbour Quarantine Anchorage, involving anchored vessels with low freeboards (up to 6-7 meters) being boarded at night, of which six occurred during periods with no or minimal moonlight illumination.

Most of the incidents (70%) occurred between 2300Hrs to 0500Hrs. No incidents were recorded between 0500Hrsto 1900Hrs. Of note, half of the incidents took place on Wednesdays, and there were also no multiple incidents taking place on the same night.

The incidents involved between one to eight perpetrators, with half of reported incidents (50%) involving three or more perpetrators; it is possible that more perpetrators were involved but were not detected or reported.

Breakdown of Vessel Types

A total of eight container vessels (80%), one tug and barge (10%), and one dredger (10%) were involved in the ten incidents reported.

This is assessed to be generally consistent with two factors, (1) vessel types that constitute a larger percentage of the overall traffic volume (i.e. numerically more in absolute numbers) plying their trade in the area, and (2) vessels with lower freeboards (below 10 metres).

Following the incidents, the Philippine authorities, in particular the Coast Guard Station in the vicinity of Manila Bay, have increased surveillance efforts and patrol routines in their respective areas to deter potential perpetrators and respond to the increasing incidents. The PCG has advised ship masters to stand-up additional duty watches and encouraged the installation of CCTVs.

The report concludes that:

Vessels have also been reminded to make timely reports if any incidents occur.