Master of Royal 16 Found Dead

Pham Minh Tuan and five others were abducted by Abu Sayyaf extremist on November 11, 2016. The 5,610dwt Vietnamese bulk carrier was carrying cement from northeastern Vietnam to the Philippines when she was boarded by 10 armed men off Sibago Island in the Philippines. The boat had 19 crew on board, but the attackers took only six, including the captain, as hostages.

Tuan was reportedly executed by his captors during a fight with military forces in Sulu on September 7. Following the recovery of his body, the military said it launched pursuit operations that led to a clash in the seaside town of Panamao in Sulu, where three Abu Sayyaf suspects were killed.

In August, one of the Royal 16‘s crew escaped captivity and was rescued by military forces. Do Trung Hieu was the second seafarer to be rescued without ransom being paid. Hoang Vo, 22, escaped from his captors in June. The bodies of another two of the crew were found decapitated in July, and one other was reportedly killed by gunfire.

On November 10, Philippine troops rescued three living and one dead crewmen captured from another bulk carrier, the Giang Hai. The Vietnam-registered vessel was boarded on February 19 in the Sulu Sea, and all six Vietnamese crew were abducted. One man was killed while underway and another was found dead in July.

Up to 10 crewmen remain in captivity, and Philippine authorities continued to conduct pursuit operations.