Sail-World recently published an article about the findings of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Report (See Sail-World story). The article stated that Indonesia was 'heading the piracy stakes'. Members of the yachting fraternity in Indonesia have claimed since that the report did not draw a true picture of cruising safety in Indonesia. Sail-World Cruising here welcomes their points of view:
These statements (that Indonesian piracy rated highly) came as a great surprise to Cilian Budarlaigh of Indo Yacht Support, Andy Shorten of The Lighthouse Consultancy and the network of yacht support services in Indonesia. The article also developed concern amongst the yachting industry in the surrounding Asia Pacific cruising destinations, areas undoubtedly connected in the minds of captains and yacht owners considering visiting the Asia Pacific region.
Gili Lawah Darat - .. .
It is clear some clarification was necessary, and reading the article more thoroughly, a few questions are raised by these comments;
'guess where the highest number of reported piracy incidents are today? Nigeria? Venezuela? No, it's Indonesia'
' ...Indonesia ranks as the country with the highest number of attacks with 18 reports compared with 25 in the first quarter of 2013. Vessels were boarded in all the incidents. While these are predominantly low level thefts from vessels...'
The term 'Piracy' has severe connotations and quite rightly so, but how exactly is Piracy defined in the report to which the article refers? If Indonesia has risen to the top of the Piracy charts as a result of 'predominantly low level thefts' it certainly seems like the country is getting receiving some unfair criticism.
One might also suggest that if low level theft was included in the Piracy Report, then potentially the number of petty thefts from yachts in marinas across the Mediterranean or Caribbean would total more than the 18 incidents of 'piracy' mentioned here. Not that anyone wants to accept any level of theft and certainly has no tolerance for piracy in any shape or form, but it seems clear that there should be a distinction between the serious crimes of kidnapping hostage taking and low level theft.
Would it therefore be better to differentiate between the 'attacks' each vessel faces? Perhaps the term 'Piracy' would better relate to incidents where hostage taking and / or a vessel ransom occur, and a new term 'Sea Robbery' could define incidents where items are stolen from a vessel.
Sadly we know that robbery can be an aspect of daily life, and so breaking down the term Piracy can allow observers to more accurately understand the incidents, and therefore the scale of the risks when entering the Asia Pacific region.
Elsewhere the article states:
'... these attacks relate to ALL shipping and most are on commercial ships. But where it's dangerous for a commercial ship, it's even more dangerous for a yacht, with its low free-board and little protection.'
The question raised with this comment would be whether this kind of area is indeed logically 'even more dangerous for a yacht'. Most items that are stolen from commercial vessels are unlikely to be on board yachts, so from the 'pirate’s' position, does it make sense to risk extra effort to board a high visibility private yacht transiting through a commercial area, when other commercial vessels with goods that can more easily be sold on the black market are more readily available. If the logical answer is no, then is Indonesia 'even more dangerous for a yacht'? It seems a bit of a stretch to imagine so.
Indonesian cruising grounds - waiting for you - .. .
Indonesia has seen a steady increase in private yachts visiting the country, with not one single vessel reporting any incident of piracy, or even a sense of discomfort at any stage of their experience. It would be sensible to ask yacht captains their thoughts rather than making generalisations about level of danger.
For another informed consideration, there is also the sheer size of Indonesia to take into account. The country is a similar dimension to the landmass of the USA – with the majority of these reported 'Piracy' incidents occurring in the commercial shipping lanes to the west of the country closer to Singapore / Malaysia commercial zones.
Cruising yachts generally focus their itineraries in the east of Indonesia, among the National Parks of Komodo and Raja Ampat amongst the areas of great natural beauty. Continuing the USA analogy, perhaps it isn’t possible to refer to issues of theft or lawlessness in New York and say that automatically the same issues are affecting California. Again, the suggestion that Indonesia is a 'hotspot' for Piracy is certainly an unfair statement.
So, what is Indonesia doing about this perceived security issue? In the article, reference is made to the reaction of Indonesian authorities:
'The report commends the actions of the Indonesian Marine Police which launched regular patrols of the higher risk anchorages in an effort to bring down the number of incidents.'
So it is clear that the security risk is taken seriously by Indonesia, and by other countries who border the Malacca Strait and therefore have responsibility in policing the area.
Members of the Asia Pacific Superyacht Association (APSA) have spoken out in support of Indonesia and at their disappointment in the confusions generated by the IMB Report and subsequent article. Maryanne Edwards, Chief Executive of AIMEX & Superyacht Australia commented 'this kind of confusing report affects the whole of the Asia Pacific Yachting Industry, which is incredibly frustrating for the network of hardworking yacht support services assisting across the region'
APSA Chairman Colin Dawson and members of the association will be holding a breakfast meeting at the Monaco Yacht Show (24-27 September 2014) for Captains interested in visiting South East Asia, to discuss and alleviate concerns about potential risks to be faced in the regions.
To conclude with a very simple position, with regard to yacht safety in Indonesia, Budarlaigh and Shorten would have no hesitation in suggesting yachts visiting the country would be subject to very, very minimal risk of experiencing issues.