Singapore — Three ships were attacked by pirates in the Singapore Strait on Friday (Dec 20) and two more yesterday (Dec 23).
On Friday, the ReCAAP ISC (Information Sharing Centre) had issued a warning concerning piracy incidents involving vessels under way specifically in the eastbound lane of the Singapore Strait. The ReCAAP is the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia.
Two other incident alerts for this particular area were raised by the centre on Oct 23 and Nov 29.
On Friday, six perpetrators carrying knives climbed aboard the tanker Jag Lalit as it was on its way to Kaohsiung, Taiwan, said the ISC.
The Seatrade Maritime News reported that crew members were assaulted. The Jag Lalit’s chief engineer sustained bruises on his neck when a gold chain was stolen from him. The 4th engineer was punched in the face.
A few minutes after this assault, five men boarded the Akij Globe, a bulk carrier. They stormed into the engine room to confront the crew. However, when the alarm was sounded the men escaped in a small white boat, bearing with them engine and generator spare parts.
Some hours earlier another bulk carrier, the Jian Fa, was hit by a yet undetermined number of people as it was making its way to China. Upon the crew’s inspection of the vessel sometime later, it was determined that nothing had been stolen and that none of the pirates had remained on board. The Jian Fa continued on its way to its destination.
According to ReCAAP, it is possible that the same group carried out the three attacks. “Due to the proximity of the incidents, the same group of perpetrators responsible for the incidents on 20 December 2019 cannot be ruled out.”
In the early hours yesterday, two attacks were carried out on a tanker and a bulk carrier. Crew members on board the vessels were tied up by the pirates, as they tried to rob the vessels. However, the pirates left quickly, without stealing anything, when the alarm was sounded on both ships.
The first ship attacked was the Bamzi, a tanker en route to Qing Dao, China. Three men, one of whom carried a knife, entered the engine room. When the ship’s alarm sounded, the pirates left the vessel immediately. Two crew members were found to have been tied up.
Less than two hours later, the bulk carrier Trust Star was invaded by six men. As in previous incidents, the crew members activated the alarm and the pirates made a hasty exit. They had also tied up two crew members, who were eventually able to free themselves.
Since the ship’s master was uncertain as to whether more pirates were still on board, the Republic of Singapore Navy and the Singapore Police Coast Guard escorted the Trust Star to the port of Singapore for an inspection. No pirates were found.
ReCAAP has told all ships to remain watchful for similar incidents: “The ReCAAP ISC advises all ships to exercise enhanced vigilance, adopt extra precautionary measures and report all incidents immediately to the nearest coastal state. The ReCAAP ISC recommends to the law enforcement agencies of the littoral states to step up surveillance, increase patrols and enhance cooperation and coordination among them in order to respond promptly to incidents.”
There were around 27 attacks on vessels in the Singapore Strait this year. Fifteen occurred as the vessels were under way in its westbound lane, while 12 occurred in the eastbound lane. -/TISG