Pirates strike again in Singapore Strait

Horizon II. Credit: HASENPUSCH DIETMAR

A bulk carrier and a tanker were targeted by pirates and sea robbers in the Singapore Strait and in Vietnam from 21 to 27 April 2020, the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia Information Sharing Centre (ReCAAP ISC) announced.

In the pirate attack, Horizon II, a 64,000 dwt bulk carrier, was en route from Singapore to Vietnam on 22 April when around 11 am local time, two perpetrators were sighted at the stern deck of the ship.

One of the perpetrators was armed with a knife. The alarm was raised and the crew mustered at the bridge. The master reported the incident to Singapore Vessel Traffic Information System. A safety navigational broadcast was initiated. The Singapore Navy’s Maritime Security Task Force (MSTF), Singapore Police Coast Guard (PCG), and the Indonesian authorities were notified.

The master of Horizon II deviated the ship back to the Port of Singapore and requested assistance from the authorities to conduct a search on board for the perpetrators.

MSTF’s vessel RSS Justice escorted Horizon II back to the Port of Singapore. Upon arrival, the Singapore PCG officers boarded the ship and conducted a search. However, they could not find the perpetrators on board. The crew was not injured and nothing was stolen.

The International Maritime Bureau’s latest quarterly report noted that global piracy is on the rise, especially in the Gulf of Guinea. Incidents of actual or attempted attacks have also increased in Southeast Asia, with five vessels boarded by pirates while underway in the Singapore Strait in the first quarter compared with zero incidents in 2019.

On 16 April, a very large crude carrier, Arafura, was also targeted by pirates while sailing in the Singapore Strait, en route to China.

ReCAAP ISC disclosed that Masagana, an 8,627 dwt products tanker, was anchored in Vũng Tàu, Vietnam, when it was boarded by four perpetrators via the forecastle, using a wooden boat.

The watchman noticed the perpetrators, reported to the duty officer, and raised the alarm. The   perpetrators jumped overboard and escaped in the wooden boat. The crew searched the ship and  discovered that the forward store was forced open with either a hammer or bolt cutter. The perpetrators stole 80 litres of deck red paint from the forward store. The crew was not injured. The incident was reported to Vũng Tàu Port Control.