By Kathryn Stone 2015-06-17 11:25:30
Three ships underway in the eastbound lane of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS) were attacked by pirates within a three hour window early June 17.
The incidents occurred within a 10 nautical mile zone around Pulau Takong Kecil in Indonesia between 2:30 am and 5:30 am. The first two vessels attacked, the Densa Shark, a Brazil-registered bulk carrier and the Pro Triumph a Norway registered LNG tanker quickly raised the alarm. The crews conducted searches and found nothing missing and no perpetuators onboard.
The final attack was reported aboard the Panama-registered Pro-triumph tanker. Five assailants tied up the Chief Engineer and First Engineer and stole parts from the ship’s generator. The pirates fled the scene after the crew raised the alarm to local authorities.
All of the attacks reported between three to five pirates in the engine room, indicating the ship’s spare engine parts were the focus of the attacks. Given the close timing and proximity of the incidents, it is possible that pirates could be from the same group. However, this has yet to be verified by authorities. Additionally, the vessels may have been targeted because they were navigating at a slower speed while making a turn.
According to anti-piracy watchdog ReCAAP, today’s incidents fall under the category of ‘petty theft’. Petty theft has risen over 88% from the same reporting period last year. So far this year ReCAAP has reported dramatic spikes in both ‘very significant’ and ‘minimum significant’ instances of piracy.
ReCAAP has again reiterated that all vessels operating in the SOMS should exercise enhanced vigilance and take additional precautionary measures to prevent boardings. The organization also repeated its call for the countries around the SOMS to increase maritime surveillance and patrols.
22 Still Missing in Vessel Hijacking
The news of today’s attacks comes as 22 mariners remain missing following the hijacking of the Orkim Harmony product tanker.
So far no signals or transmissions from the missing vessel have been received. The 7,301 dwt Orkim Harmony fell out of communication around 9:00pm June 11, while transporting around 6,000 metric tons of petrol. Though no ransom demands have been made, it is believed the vessel was seized for its RON 95 gasoline cargo.
Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) deputy director-general Ahmad Puzi Ab Kahar has confirmed that six aircrafts are now involved in the search for the missing ship and it crew. A seventh aircraft from the United States is expected to join the search operation later this week. The aircraft are in addition to eight ships and three boats that are already canvasing the seas. Satellites are also being used to aid in the search.
The MMEA has confirmed that the ship did not sink, since none of the onboard automatic sensors were triggered. Ahmad Puzi has vowed to continue search efforts until the missing tanker is found.