Singapore-based Ocean Tankers told IHS Maritime it plans to strengthen its anti-piracy measures in the wake of the second hijacking its fleet has suffered within a year.
A spokesman for Ocean Tankers told IHS Maritime, “We are currently reviewing our security procedures to see how we can further improve these, and our main purpose is to ensure the total safety of all our crews no matter where they sail. Right after we learnt about this incident we sent a security alert to our entire fleet to tighten security procedures, and we reminded them to follow our procedures strictly with additional look-out and raised awareness.”
The company would not elaborate on the measures it currently has in place.
On 2 May, one of its products tankers, 6,500 dwt Ocean Energy, was boarded by eight pirates as it was en route to Myanmar in the Straits of Malacca.
The pirates, armed with firearms, forced the master of the vessel to drop anchor at 02° 19.3.64′ N, 101° 40.4′ E, off Port Dickson, Malaysia, where a barge came alongside. Subsequently, the master and crew were locked up while the perpetrators siphoned and transferred 2,023 tonnes of gas oil to the barge.
In the meantime, the perpetrators damaged the communication equipment on the ship and stole the crew’s cash and mobile phones as well as the vessel’s Iridium phone. Then, the perpetrators fled the scene at around 04:30 h local time on 3 May.
The crew of Ocean Energy then managed to contact their company’s security officer at about 05:53 h local time to report the incident. No one was hurt in the incident and the vessel eventually returned to Singapore on 3 May.
The attack, the fifth fuel siphoning case reported this year, came less than eight months after another of Ocean Tankers’ vessels, Ocean Osprey, was similarly attacked on 22 September 2014.
Ocean Osprey was also hijacked en route from Singapore to Myanmar and the pirates stole the crew’s personal effects and money.
Ocean Tankers expressed concern at the growing spate of fuel siphoning incidents, which have seen small tankers being attacked in the South China Sea and Straits of Malacca by pirates seeking to steal their cargo or bunker fuel.
The spokesman said, “Currently, we are working closely with authorities in Malaysia and Singapore and they are investigating this unacceptable situation to see what more can be done to get it under control. Ocean Tankers strongly condemns this kind of attack on shipping and upon innocent seafarers.”
Singapore-headquartered anti-piracy watchdog ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre reported a total of 38 piracy and armed robbery incidents against ships in the first quarter of 2015. Three of these were attempted incidents.
Ocean Tankers is a subsidiary of Singapore-based oil trading firm Hin Leong Trading.