2017-004-Piracy/Armed Robbery/Terrorism-Sulu and Celebes Seas
Issue: U.S. flag vessels are advised to remain vigilant and adhere to the counter-piracy annex of their approved Vessel Security Plan when transiting the Sulu and Celebes Seas, in light of recent boardings and kidnappings for ransom that have taken place in the area. Over the past 12 months, there have been at least 14 reported kidnappings and one murder, of which at least ten incidents were reportedly linked to Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), a violent Islamic separatist group operating in the southern Philippines.
Previously, only towing and fishing vessels were targeted and crewmembers kidnapped. However, since October 2016, ASG has reportedly targeted three large commercial vessels and one yacht. In November 2016 ASG boarded a German yacht and killed one crewmember, and in February 2017 killed the remaining crewmember after a ransom demand was not met. Thus far, no U.S. vessels have been involved in these incidents.
Guidance: Additional information on this threat, including specific recommendations for vessels transiting the area, is available on the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) website at www.recaap.org.
Cancellation of Prior Advisories: This message cancels legacy MARAD Advisory 2013-3 (Gulf of Oman, North Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, Bab el Mandeb) and legacy MARAD Advisory 2016-4 (Sulu and Celebes Seas). This message will automatically expire on November 09, 2017.