Just two days after The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP ISC) issued an alert about two pirating incidents in the Singapore Strait, yet another incident occurred on Christmas Day.
On 25 December, a tanker named Stena Immortal, underway in the eastbound lane of The Singapore Strait and bound for port Singapore, was boarded by pirates. Crew members spotted six unarmed people in the engine room at around 12.28 am, leading the chief engineer to alert the master. The alarm was activated and the six perpetrators escaped empty-handed in an unidentified small boat.
Nothing was stolen and the crew were fortunately uninjured as there was no confrontation with the perpetrators.
The incident was reported to the Singapore Vessel Traffic Information System. The Singapore Navy and Coast Guard, as well as the Indonesian authorities, were notified.
With this latest report, the 2019 total number of such incidents in the Singapore Strait in 2019 is up to 30, 15 involved ships in the westbound lane, while the 15 were in the eastbound lane of the Singapore Strait. In the last quarter of 2019 alone, there were 13 incidents, including this latest one. Three of those incidents occurred within five days of each other between 23 to 27 November.
In 2018, eight piracy attempts and attacks were recorded in the Malacca and Singapore Straits. The figures were much higher in 2015, at 104. In 2016, there were only two incidents while in 2017, there were nine.
In its statement on 25 December, ReCAAP ISC said it is “seriously concerned with the increased incident”, noting that there’s a possibility of further incidents since the perpetrators of were not arrested.
The statement continued, “All ships are strongly advised to exercise utmost vigilance, adopt extra precautionary measures and report all incidents immediately to the nearest coastal State.”
“The ReCAAP ISC recommends to the law enforcement agencies of the littoral States to further step up surveillance, increase patrols and enhance cooperation and coordination among them in order to respond promptly to incidents.”