Three separate incidents since the beginning of March this year in the Straits of Malacca are probably the work of the same group of robbers, according to a report from Singapore-based piracy and robbery information group Recaap.
“The three incidents involved [a] group of four to five men armed with knives [who] boarded the vessels while underway during hours of darkness,” Recaap said in a statement.
“Without detailed reporting by the masters about the robbers’ boarding and modus operandi, it is assessed that the same group of robbers or robbers from some syndicate could be involved.”
Two of the incidents occurred on March 6 and a third on March 10. On March 6, robbers board two oil tankers, Marshall Islands-flagged 107,506 dwt Sea Voyager and Liberia-flagged 167,282 dwt Orpheas.
Both incidents happened within an hour of each other starting at 0510 hrs near the small island of Palau Keriman Kecel off the southwest coast of Singapore in the Straits.
The March 10 incident, involving capesize bulk 173,764 dwt Cape Veni, occurred shortly after 0100 hrs in the same vicinity.
During the first attack, four men boarded with knives from a fishing boat. The crew of Sea Voyager sounded the alarm and moved to the ship’s protected area. The men fled.
Forty minutes later, five men armed with knives boarded Orpheas and made off with engine spare parts. No one was hurt.
“With no success in stealing anything from one vessel, it is assessed that the robbers could have had targeted another vessel that came along,” Recaap said.
In the third incident, four men boarded the vessel, but the alarm was sounded and they retreated without robbing anything.
Recaap’s Information Centre urged “all vessels transiting the area to enhance vigilance and report all incidents to the nearest coastal state immediately”.
For more maritime news see Lloyd’s List