Singapore-flagged vessel detained for allegedly smuggling goods in Batam waterway

The LCT Emperor was allegedly used for smuggling used television sets, refrigerators and other household items.
The LCT Emperor was allegedly used for smuggling used television sets, refrigerators and other household items. PHOTO: F. PANGETSU

JAKARTA - The Indonesian navy has detained a Singapore-flagged vessel and its crew of 12, allegedly for smuggling used television sets, refrigerators and other household items from the city state.

The LCT Emperor, a 835-tonne landing craft tank, was stopped in Tanjung Pinggir waters just off Batam in the Riau Islands province in the early hours on Sunday (Oct 16).

Tanjung Pinang-based naval commander S. Irawan said navy officers on board a patrolcraft spotted several smaller boats approaching the Emperor.

The crew of the Emperor were observed to have been unloading goods unto the smaller boats in open sea before it sailed towards the Sekupang logistic seaport in Batam.

"We have detained the crew because they brought in used goods without permits." said the naval commander on Monday. "We have since notified Singapore about this arrest and are now investigating the crew."

The Emperor departed Jurong Port in Singapore on Saturday, and preliminary investigations showed that the vessel did not have the required travelling documents and its captain also did not possess a valid piloting licence.

The goods carried by the vessel - registered to Singapore firm Toll Logistic - and seized during the arrest were also not logged in the shipping manifest, Commander Irawan told reporters.

Sunday's arrest comes as Indonesia increased sea patrols, primarily targeting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, after President Joko Widodo announced plans to beef up the country's fisheries sector in recent years.

Recent arrests in Indonesian waters involving Singaporeans or Singapore-flagged vessels include fishing boats MV Selin and the Seven Seas Conqueress, both piloted by Singaporean captains.

Captain Shoo Chiau Huat was at the helm of the MV Sellin, which was ferrying seven Singaporeans and six Malaysians near Tanjung Berakit for a recreational fishing trip when he was arrested in April.

His case was followed by a similar incident in August involving the Malaysia-flagged Seven Seas Conqueress which was piloted by Captain Ricky Tan Poh Hui in waters near Bintan.

Both fishing boat captains remained in custody in Indonesia pending court hearings.

Last year, two Singapore vessels were also detained by the Indonesian Transport Ministry. They allegedly had no permits, when they were piloting a tanker travelling through Indonesian waters in the Malacca Strait.