ReCAAP Reports Continued Boardings in the Eastbound Singapore Strait

boarding and theft in Singapore Strait
Singapore Strait (file photo)

Published Apr 12, 2021 2:56 PM by The Maritime Executive

ReCAAP ISC renewed its warning regarding boardings and robbery in the Singapore Strait. The agency which monitors activity in the area is calling on states in the region to increase patrols and enforcement in their areas after three vessels reported unauthorized individuals boarding their ships at the end of last week. During one of the incidents, the perpetrators hit a crew member.

A total of 10 incidents have been reported to ReCAAP since the beginning of the year, with nine of them all in the eastbound lane of the Singapore Strait. Most of the reports are at the eastern end near the South China Sea. ReCAAP has issued several previous warnings of activity in the Singapore Strait. In 2020, a total of 34 reports in the area, representing a 10 percent increase in the number of incidents occurring on vessels in the eastbound lane.

The latest series of boardings begin early on the morning on April 8 when the bulk carrier Trina Oldendorff was underway sailing from South Africa to China and nearly at the eastern end of the Singapore Strait. Four perpetrators were sighted in the engine room, and they were carrying knives. One of the crew members of the bulker was confronted and when he attempted to shout for assistance was struck over the head by the robbers. The crew was then mustered and a search of the vessel could not find further signs of the intruders. The captain reported that nothing was stolen from the ship, but did not report the incident until the following day. 

Approximately four hours after the first boarding, two persons were spotted aboard another vessel in the same area. The individuals were detected aboard the Harrisburg, a chemical tanker, that was also underway in the eastbound lane of the Singapore Strait. Again, the crew was mustered and a search of the vessel could not locate the perpetrators.

Three days after the first two incidents, a bulk carrier, the Pantazis L, was also underway overnight in the same area when four individuals were seen in the engine room. The crew was mustered and a search could not locate the individuals. However, the captain reported that some engine spare parts had been stolen.

ReCAAP believes that multiple criminal groups are working in the region. On February 21, the Indonesian Navy captured five perpetrators. These recent incidents suggest that other groups however are also preying on ships in the eastern area of the Singapore Strait. As no one was caught or arrested after the recent incidents, ReCAAP warns that there is a possibility of further activity in the Singapore Strait.