Malaysia govt vessel, Greek carrier collide in Singapore waters

Greek carrier Piraeus was on its way to its next port of call when it collided with Malaysian vessel Polaris yesterday.
Greek carrier Pireas was on its way to its next port of call when it collided with Malaysian vessel Polaris yesterday.PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

A Malaysian government vessel and a Greek carrier collided in Singapore territorial waters off Tuas yesterday afternoon, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said.

The collision between Greece-registered bulk carrier Pireas and Malaysian vessel Polaris happened at 2.28pm as the Pireas was on its way from Singapore to its next port of call at Tanjung Pelepas in Johor.

"MPA is deeply concerned that the presence of unauthorised vessels in Singapore port limits can cause confusion for the international shipping community and threaten navigational safety in our waters," the statement added.

An MPA spokesman said there were no reports of an oil leak. MPA is investigating the incident.

Polaris, a Malaysian Marine Department vessel, is one of the vessels that trespassed on Singapore waters off Tuas last year.

When contacted, the department's director-general Baharin Abdul Hamid said the Polaris was anchored and the Pireas was on its way when the vessels collided.

Malaysia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs added that the vessels were in communication and Pireas had responded that it would steer clear of Polaris. "Despite the clear communication and definitive instructions given, the collision happened... and both vessels were cleared of each other at 2.36pm."

The ministry added that there were no injuries to the crew of both vessels and the Pireas was instructed to sail to the Port of Tanjung Pelepas where it is moored now.

Pireas and its crew have been detained by the Malaysian authorities for a preliminary inquiry.

This is the first reported collision since Malaysia unilaterally gazetted altered port limits on Oct 25 last year. The new limits went beyond its past claims. In response, Singapore extended its port limits off Tuas to the full extent of its territorial waters.

Speaking in Parliament on Jan 14, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said Singapore would do its best to discuss all outstanding bilateral issues with Malaysia in a calm, reasonable and focused manner.

He added that his discussions with his Malaysian counterpart have been "amicable and constructive, focused on trying to resolve the issues".

Officials from both countries have been meeting to discuss both the maritime issue and a separate aviation dispute.

Additional reporting by Nadirah H. Rodzi

Correction note: This article has been updated to reflect the correct name of Greek carrier Pireas.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 10, 2019, with the headline 'Malaysia govt vessel, Greek carrier collide in Singapore waters'. Print Edition | Subscribe