Pirates attack Korean bulker in South China Sea

Strait of Malacca. Credit: Google Maps

Pirates attacked a bulk carrier in the South China Sea early on 22 July, with the crew robbed of cash and personal belongings. The ship, CK Bluebell, is owned by Chang Myung Shipping of South Korea.

A statement from South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) said that seven pirates boarded CK Bluebell around 4.25 am local time. Apart from the ship’s captain and another crew member, who sustained bruises, no one else was hurt. The 22-man crew comprised of 4 South Koreans and 18 Indonesians.

The hold-up lasted 30 minutes, after which the pirates made off with a cash amount of USD13,000 as well as mobile phones, clothes, and shoes belonging to the crew. The ministry said that CK Bluebell continued on its voyage after the incident.

IHS Markit’s vessel-tracking data shows that CK Bluebell loaded grains in Santos, Brazil, before sailing through the Strait of Malacca and the South China Sea. The ship is scheduled to arrive in Incheon on 30 July.

The attack on CK Bluebell comes just after China raised its security alert for ships sailing through the Strait of Malacca to the highest level on 2 July 2019. No reasons were cited.

The Strait of Malacca is the world’s busiest sea lane, with more than 83,000 ships transiting these waters every year.

MOF said, “In order to prevent the recurrence of such incidents, we’re monitoring seven nearby South Korean-owned vessels and keep track of piracy in the area.”