In its weekly report for 23-29 March, ReCAAP ISC informed of two armed robberies against ships in Asia. One incident occurred to a bulk carrier while underway in the eastbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) in the Singapore Strait and the other incident occurred to a bulk carrier while anchored at Cam Pha Port, Vietnam.
he incidents were classified as CAT 3 and CAT 4 (least significant where the perpetrators were not armed, and the crew not harmed), respectively.
With this latest incident, a total of six incidents had occurred in the Singapore Strait since January 2021. ReCAAP ISC is therefore concerned with the continued occurrence of incidents in the Singapore Strait and advises all ships to exercise enhanced vigilance and adopt extra precautionary measures when transiting the area.
The Centre also urges the littoral States to increase patrols and enforcement in their respective waters, strengthen coordination among them and promote information sharing on the latest situation and the criminal groups involved in order to make arrests of the perpetrators.
The first incident involves the Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier ‘African Queen’, while approximately 6.1 nm northwest of Tanjung Pergam, Bintan Island, Indonesia in eastbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme in the Singapore Strait.
While underway in the early morning hours of 25 March, the master reported to Singapore Vessel Traffic Information System (VTIS) that five perpetrators were sighted in the engine room. The duty oiler spotted one of the perpetrators with a knife, who ordered him to keep quiet before the perpetrators left the engine room.
Shortly after, the ship’s alarm was raised and the crew mustered, while a search onboard was conducted. At 0405 hrs, the master updated Singapore VTIS that the search was completed with no further sighting of the perpetrators onboard.
Engine spares including valve rotator, valve seat exhaust, valve seat suction, valve guide, suction valve, exhaust valve chrome plating and plunger assembly were stolen, but the crew was safe. The master did not require any assistance and continued the voyage.
A safety navigational broadcast was initiated. The Republic of Singapore Navy’s (RSN) Maritime Security Task Force (MSTF) and Singapore Police Coast Guard were notified. In addition, information about the incident was shared with the Malaysian and Indonesian authorities.
The second incident involves an unidentified Liberian-flagged bulk carrier at Cam Pha Port, Vietnam.
While at anchor in the early morning hours of 16 March, the master’s and second officer’s cabins were damaged and some cash was stolen.
A search was conducted with no perpetrator found, and the crew was safe. The incident was assessed to have occurred between 0001 hrs and 0600 hrs. The master reported the incident to the local authorities and the Company Security Officer (CSO). Meanwhile, the local immigration police boarded the ship and investigated the incident.
Incident outside Asia
The report also contains one attempted incident outside Asia, involving the Singaporean bulk carrier ‘Nord Peak ‘ while underway in the Persian Gulf, off Harf Ghabi Peninsula, Oman.
While underway on 22 March, the second officer observed a 17m grey-hulled skiff with three armed perpetrators onboard approaching from the vessel’s port side. The general alarm was raised. An emergency broadcast via Ch 16 was made. The ship horn was blown continuously and evasive measures were taken. The skiff then steered away at about 1320 hrs. The emergency broadcast was picked up by a nearby European Missionary Warship which escorted the ship safely to Mina Saqr Anchorage, UAE.
The ReCAAP ISC urges ship master and crew to report all incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships to the nearest coastal State and flag State, exercise vigilance and adopt relevant preventive measures taking reference from the Regional Guide to Counter Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia.