Four ships targeted by robbers, pirate in Asia

NYK Joanna. Credit: HASENPUSCH. DIETMAR

Four incidents of piracy and sea robbery happened in Asian waters from 14 to 20 April 2020, the Regional Co-operation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia Information Sharing Centre (ReCAAP ISC) announced.

In the sole pirate attack, Euronav’s very large crude carrier (VLCC) Arafura, which is deployed to the Tankers International pool, was broken into while en route from Sungai Linggi, Malaysia, to Qingdao, China, on 16 April.

At about 8 am local time that day, the master of the VLCC discovered that padlocks to restricted spaces were cut with a heavy cutter. A breathing apparatus air compressor unit and various spare parts were found stolen. The master searched the ship, but did not see the perpetrators. The crew was not injured.

The master reported the incident to ReCAAP Focal Point Singapore via email. The Singapore Navy and Singapore Police Coast Guard were informed, while the Malaysian and Indonesian authorities were notified. Arafura then proceeded with its voyage to Qingdao.

The other three incidents were sea robberies within local waters.

On 14 April, at about 2:48 am local time, the container ship NYK Joanna, owned by NYK Line, was approximately 4 nautical miles (7.8 km) west of the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) when the crew spotted the suspected robbers. At the time, NYK Joanna was preparing for its arrival in MICT.

A crew member noticed an unlit small motor banca near the starboard of the ship. He reported to the duty officer, who raised the alarm and made an announcement through the public announcement system. One of the crew members was directed to proceed to the forward station and he heard the banging of door and people talking.

ReCAAP ISC stated, “The chief officer, together with two crew members, proceeded to the forward station to verify the situation. They noticed one perpetrator with a knife standing at the hawse pipe area of the ship (port side) and one perpetrator running from the bosun store and both escaping through the port hawse pipe in the unlit small motor banca.”

A set of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), a piece of flashlight, and three sets of chain blocks were stolen.

A spokesperson for NYK Line told SAS, “NYK has shared this incident with international organisations within the industry, including the Philippine Coast Guard, ReCAAP ISC, and the International Maritime Bureau. NYK has also shared this incident with all NYK-operated vessels to call their attention to it.”

At about 1 am local time on 16 April, three suspected robbers were spotted at the stern of Panamax bulk carrier Palais when the ship was approximately 3.2 nautical miles north of Nongsa Point, Indonesia, in the eastbound lane of the traffic separation scheme in the Singapore Strait.

The suspects reportedly fled when the master raised the alarm. No one was hurt and some engine spare parts were stolen.

Then, at about 11:54 pm local time on 18 April, suspected robbers boarded the chemical/products tanker Seafrost from a dinghy boat while the tanker was being towed by a tug near Alang, India. Built in 1988, Seafrost was en route to a demolition yard when the boarding took place.

Some parts of Seafrost, which has been scrapped, were discovered stolen. The master of the tug reported the incident to the Khambhat vessel traffic system, which relayed the message to the Indian Coast Guard. The coastguard asked the Alang marine police and Bhavnagar customs to investigate the matter. Further investigation is in progress.