Singapore — In a six-hour period between Sunday (Nov 8) and Monday (Nov 9), pirates struck three ships in the Singapore Strait.
The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) has increased calls for action and issued its second incident alert this week. This follows an incident alert about three attacks the previous week.
There was no confrontation between the crew and the pirates in all three incidents.
The first incident occurred at around 9.25 pm on Sunday. The Zeno, a tanker, was 4.4 nautical miles south of Tanjung Bulat in eastern Johor. After three pirates were seen in the engine room, an alarm was raised and the ship was searched. At 11.05 pm, the ship’s master told the Singapore Vessel Traffic Information System (VTIS) that the pirates were no longer on board the vessel.
However, they had taken a sounding rod, an oil sampling rod, a portable breathing apparatus, portable instruments for measuring ullage and a portable spray painter.
A few hours later, at 2.20 am, the Lefkada, a bulk carrier, was boarded as it was 5.4 nautical miles south-east of Tanjung Ramunia, also in eastern Johor. Two pirates were seen near the engine room locker. When the ship was searched, a lifebuoy was found to be missing, and the oil spill equipment locker was found unlocked. At 3.40 am, the ship’s master told the VTIS that no pirates were found on board.
Shortly after the two pirates were seen on board the Lefkada, a pirate was seen on board the Atlantic Diana, a bulk carrier. It was 5.7 nautical miles north-west of Tanjung Pergam in Pulau Bintan, Indonesia. This occurred at around 3.08 am, with the pirate seen in the vicinity of the steering gear flat. After an alarm was raised and the crew searched the ship, the ship’s master told the VTIS that there were no further sightings of pirates on board the vessel and that nothing had been taken.
This year, there have been 31 such incidents in the Singapore Strait, with 27 (including the three most recent incidents) in the eastbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS). One incident occurred in the westbound lane of the TSS, two incidents in the precautionary area and one incident just outside the TSS.
Following the three latest incidents, reports were made to the Republic of Singapore Navy’s Maritime Security Task Force and the Singapore Police Coast Guard. Malaysian and Indonesian authorities were also told of the incidents, and safety navigational broadcasts were initiated to alert other ships.
Marinelog.com quotes the Executive Director of ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre, Mr Masafumi Kuroki, as saying:
“Since January 2020, 31 incidents of armed robbery against ships have been reported in the Singapore Strait, of which 27 occurred in the eastbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme. In addition to asking the shipping community to exercise upmost vigilance, we also urge the littoral states concerned to take enforcement actions to apprehend the perpetrators — without which the spate of incidents is likely to continue. All incidents, however ‘moderate’, should not be ignored because the lack of arrests can embolden criminals to escalate their crimes.” /TISG