After three attempted robberies in the past few days, ReCAAP ICS is again issuing warnings about incidents occurring on vessels underway in the Singapore Strait. The regional cooperation, which monitors acts of piracy and assault of ships in Southeast Asia, issued five incident alerts and a special report in 2020 citing the Singapore Strait as one of the most dangerous areas for vessels in the region.
The three latest boardings all took place in the eastbound lane of the Singapore Strait, the same region where ReCAAP recorded 30 similar incidents in 2020. With a 10 percent increase in incidents specifically within the Traffic Separation Scheme area, ReCAAP is urging states to increase their patrols and enforcement efforts while advising ships to exercise enhanced vigilance, adopt extra precautionary measures, and report all incidents immediately.
“The three incidents occurred in close proximity to each other and in particular, two incidents occurred within an interval of a few hours,” ReCAAP writes in its alert. The first boarding took place on January 25, followed by late on January 28, and a few hours later in the early morning hours of January 29. Each time, perpetrators were sighted in the engine room, but they were scared off with nothing having been reported stolen and no direct confrontation between the crew and the boarders.
Incident map courtesy of ReCAAP
Armed robberies are typical of the nature of incidents experienced in the area. The boarders come aboard and seek to steal supplies or materials that can be quickly accessed. In most cases, they flee when they are discovered.
Five unauthorized individuals were sighted in the engine room of the bulk carrier Ark Royal on January 25. The vessel was underway approximately seven nautical miles northwest of Bintan, Indonesia. The crew was mustered and a search was conducted. The master later reported that nothing had been taken and that no assistance was required.
Another bulk carrier, the Elvia, was boarded late on January 28 in the same general area approximately six nautical miles northwest of Indonesia. Again, the vessel was underway when 10 unauthorized individuals, in this case armed with knives, were sighted in the engine room. The alarm was raised and the ship was searched with no additional sighting of the perpetrators. The master later reported that nothing had been stolen and the vessel was continuing on its route to China not requiring assistance.
Approximately four hours later a general cargo ship, the Vantage Wave, again in the same area, reported that three people armed with knives were sighted in the engine room. As with the other incidents, an alarm was sounded and the ship was searched without locating the borders. Again, the captain reported that nothing was stolen and the ship was continuing on its voyage to China.
ReCAAP is warning that in all these incidents the perpetrators were not apprehended and arrested, creating the possibility of further attempts at robbery in this area of the Singapore Strait. ReCAAP is repeating its calls for coordination and information sharing among the states in the region in order to make arrests of the perpetrators.
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