Pirates Scared Off in South China Sea
At roughly 8:40 p.m. on Saturday, a ship owner notified authorities of a pirate attack on one of his tankers in the South China Sea.
Tanker Ai Maru
Singapore’s Information Fusion Center (IFC) reacted quickly and coordinated with its International Liaison Officers from Malaysia and Indonesia for an operational response.
The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) swiftly deployed its Patrol Vessel, RSS Gallant, which was the first naval vessel to arrive near the scene of the attack at 12.45 a.m.
RSS Gallant provided position updates and continued to shadow the tanker. Upon receipt of the report, the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) deployed patrol ship Terengganu KD [pictured below]. They were able to intercept the pirate ship and approach the hijacked tanker at anchor. Communication links were attempted, but failed.
Fortunately, the presence of maritime security forces from the RSN and RMN in the vicinity of the tanker Ai Maru forced the perpetrators to abandon their attack and flee the scene into international waters.
Other reports stated that the pirates did manage to escape with a large part of the tanker's cargo, despite the multinational efforts. Platts reported that seven pirates tied and locked up the crew, damaged the communication equipment, stole 620 mt of MGO and personal belongings and fled.
Suspected Pirate Vessel
The tanker was carrying marine gas oil and was hijacked about 30 nautical miles south of Pulau Aur, Johor, Malaysia. All crewmembers are believed to be safe. The ship was later handed over to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Southern Region for further investigation.
The Honduras-registered tanker was in transit from the outside port limits of western Singapore to the Gulf of Thailand. The same vessel had been boarded by pirates in 2012 in the South China Sea; this attempt was foiled by authorities.
Authorities again emphasize the need for timely information sharing and proper management to curb piracy.