SINGAPORE - Two Taiwanese fishing vessels that were allegedly chased and fired at by an Indonesian patrol vessel arrived in Singapore early Thursday (March 24) morning.
Carrying 25 crew members on board, including the two Taiwanese captains, both vessels docked at Jurong Fishery Port at about 7.15am.
Two tuna longliners Sheng Te Tsai and Lien I Hsing No. 116 were on their way to Singapore, passing through the Strait of Malacca early Monday when their captains said they were being pursued and fired at by the Indonesian vessel.
Lien I Hsing No. 116, with 12 crew on board, was suddenly fired at four or five times while being lit up by a spotlight aboard the Indonesian patrol vessel, said the report, but did not appear to have been hit. Its captain Chen Fu-li declined to comment.
The worst hit was Sheng Te Tsai, which had 12 bullet holes, said its Captain Lin Nan-yang.
Recalling the harrowing experience, Mr Lin, 34, said: "At first, we thought we were being attacked by pirates. There was no warning at all and they started shooting... Everyone was just hiding under the consoles or in their bunks, hoping to stay alive."
Looking tired, Mr Lin said that at the time of the incident, he was about to head to bed after being on the look-out for small ships.
"It was so chaotic. I tried to establish communications with the vessel but didn't understand what the other side was saying," Mr Lin told The Straits Times, adding that this was the first such attack he has encountered in his 15-year-long sailing career.
The Indonesian vessel was said to have chased the Sheng Te Tsai for an hour, Mr Lin added.
Following the incident, there were several sleepless nights for Mr Lin and his 12 crew members as they made their way to Singapore.
"I'm just glad to get here in one piece and safe," said Mr Lin. His wife, who only wanted to be known as Mrs Lin, arrived in Singapore the night before to see him.
Mr Lin said that he will be unloading his catch next week before leaving for the Indian Ocean on March 31 to continue fishing.
"I'm a little traumatised but I still need to earn a living. All I want now is just sleep."
Taiwan is investigating allegations that an Indonesian ship pursued and shot at two Taiwanese fishing boats in the Malacca Strait, warning Jakarta that violence on the high seas was unacceptable.
The alleged incident occurred just days after Indonesia detained the crew of a Chinese boat suspected of fishing illegally in its waters off the South China Sea, sparking a tense standoff with Beijing.