Robbers target two ships in Singapore Strait within an hour

Vessel traffic in Singapore Strait. Credit: AISLive IHS Markit

Two ships were targeted by robbers within an hour in the Singapore Strait on 9 February 2020.

While some ship spares were stolen from the Indian-owned Aframax oil tanker Swarna Jayanti, at about 2:52 am local time, just half an hour prior, robbers fled the Supramax bulker New Spirit after being spotted by the ship’s crew.

Regional piracy information sharing centre ReCAAP ISC said that at about 2:20 am local time, the 2010-built New Spirit, which is owned by New Vision Shipping of Greece, was about 5.1 n miles from Nongsa Point, Indonesia, when six men armed with knives were seen in the engine room.

The ship, loaded with iron ore from Paradip, India, was en route to Bayuquan, China.

ReCAAP ISC said: “The perpetrators ran onto the deck when they saw the crew. The master mustered the crew in the bridge and accounted for all of them. He reported the incident to Singapore VTIS [vessel traffic information system] East and requested to go to Singapore to conduct further search. Upon arrival in Singapore, the Singapore Police Coast Guard boarded the ship to conduct further search. No perpetrators were found, and nothing was reported stolen.”

After bunkering in Singapore, Swarna Jayanti, owned by Shipping Corporation of India, carrying crude oil loaded at Novorossiysk, Russia, was on its way to Daesan, South Korea.

About 6.2 n miles from Nongsa Point, a crew member saw one perpetrator in the engine room. The master raised the alarm, mustered the crew, and searched for the perpetrator. Some valves (engine spares) were reported missing from the engine room. The master reported the incident to Singapore VTIS East. The crew was not injured.

ReCAAP ISC said that the two incidents mean that six incidents have happened in the Singapore Strait since the start of 2020, including a barge being robbed twice in the same day.

There has been a surge in piracy and sea robberies in the Singapore Strait, from seven incidents in 2018 to 31 in 2019, according to ReCAAP ISC’s annual report.

Singapore will increase its efforts in the fight against piracy and sea robberies in the Straits of Singapore and Malacca by restructuring its Maritime Security Task Force (MSTF), its Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said on 3 February.

The MSTF, an offshoot of the Singapore Navy, works with maritime and law enforcement agencies to protect and guard Singapore’s waters. This includes carrying out daily patrols of the Singapore Strait as well as escort operations and boardings.