The ReCAAP piracy reporting center has issued a new warning about the risk of boardings and armed robberies in the eastbound lane of the Singapore Strait traffic separation scheme. On April 17, two ships were boarded and robbed within the span of four hours – and in one incident, a crewmember was injured in a confrontation with the criminals.
In the first incident, a product tanker was transiting the strait when the engineer on duty saw a robber attempting to open the hatch to the steering gear compartment from the poop deck. The suspect fled when spotted and was not caught, and did not manage to steal anything.
The second, more serious incident occurred four hours later. A bulker was transiting the same area when crewmembers spotted four suspects in the engine room. One of the robbers attacked a crewmember with an adjustable wrench, leaving a bruise on his head. The attackers made off with some engine spares and escaped.
“ReCAAP ISC is concerned with the continued occurrence of incidents in the Singapore Strait, particularly off Tanjung Pergam, Bintan Island, Indonesia,” the center warned. “Of the 12 incidents reported in the Singapore Strait [this year], nine incidents occurred off Tanjung Pergam.”
The individuals responsible for the attacks have not been caught, and ReCAAP warns that the possibility for further robberies in the area still exists. All vessels transiting the waters off Tanjung Pergam should consider extra anti-piracy precautions and heightened vigilance, the center recommended.
As maritime security is a concern for littoral states to address, ReCAAP recommended enhanced patrols in the waters off Tanjung Pergam and a coordinated, cross-border effort to detect and arrest the suspects.
In January, a similar pattern of back-to-back robberies occurred in the same area. Three vessels were boarded on January 25, 28 and 29, with the last two incidents occurring within the span of several hours. The three boardings all took place in the eastbound lane of the Singapore Strait, where ReCAAP recorded 30 similar incidents in 2020.