Robbers target three bulkers in Singapore Strait

Robbery attacks in the Singapore Strait. Credit: ReCAAP ISC

According to a statement by the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia Information Sharing Centre (ReCAAP ISC) on 26 October, robberies were attempted on three Greek-owned ships over the last two days, while the vessels were sailing in the eastbound lane of a traffic separation scheme (TSS) in the Singapore Strait.

The incidents occurred within intervals of two hours and in close proximity to each other.

In the first incident, on 25 October 2020, Seajourney, an 82,250 dwt bulk carrier owned by ship management company Thenamaris, was en route to Ciwandan, Indonesia, at about 11 pm local time. The vessel was underway at about 5.7 km from Nongsa Point, Pulau Batam, Indonesia, when the master reported to the vessel traffic information system (VTIS) East that a perpetrator was sighted near the entrance of the engine room. The alarm was raised and the master searched the ship, but the perpetrator had escaped.

No one was harmed and nothing was stolen. The Singapore Navy, Singapore Police Coast Guard, and the Indonesian authorities were notified. A safety navigational broadcast was initiated.

In the second incident, on 26 October, at about 12:46 am local time, A Racer, a 26,467 dwt bulk carrier owned by Everlast, was en route to China and underway at about 4.2 km from north of Pulau Nongsa, Indonesia, when the crew was alerted by VTIS East about an unknown craft alongside the ship. The master reported that five perpetrators were sighted on board the vessel. The alarm was raised and the ship was searched, but with no sighting of the perpetrators. Again, no one was harmed and nothing was stolen.

In the third incident, on 26 October, at 1:30 am local time, El Matador, a 63,379 dwt bulk carrier owned by Grecomar Shipping Agency, was underway at about 6 km from Nongsa Point when the VTIS East alerted the crew about an unknown craft alongside the ship. The master reported that three perpetrators were seen in the engine room. The alarm was raised and four perpetrators were seen escaping from the ship.

As the master was not sure if all the perpetrators had left the ship, he diverted the ship to the Batam anchorage where the Indonesian Navy searched the ship. There was no sighting of any perpetrators during the search. The crew was safe, nothing was stolen, and the ship resumed its voyage.

According to ReCAAP ISC, the total number of robberies or attempted robberies on ships in the eastbound lane of a TSS has reached six cases from 11 to 26 October.

The figures form the highest number of incidents reported in one month compared with the previous months in 2020 (January–September). In all six incidents, there was no confrontation between the perpetrators and the crew. One lifebuoy and some welding rods were stolen in one incident, and nothing was stolen in the other five incidents.