No 'chief culprit' or 'arranged incident' behind Pireas-Polaris collision: MPA

MPA said the collision happened at 2.28pm on Saturday afternoon, and was witnessed by Police Coast Guard officers patrolling in the area. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/MARITIME AND PORT AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - There was no "chief culprit" behind last week's collision involving the Greek carrier Pireas and a Malaysian government vessel, said the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) in a Facebook post on Monday evening (Feb 11).

This is in response to false online allegations about the collision, it said.

These include allegations that the Singapore Government orchestrated the incident, and that the media was on standby to capture footage of it and upload it "almost immediately".

"There is neither a 'chief culprit' nor an 'arranged' incident," MPA said.

"MPA is investigating, and strongly urges the public to avoid spreading deliberate online falsehoods."

MPA said the collision happened at 2.28pm on Saturday afternoon, and was witnessed by Police Coast Guard officers patrolling in the area.

At that time, Pireas reported the collision to the MPA's Port Operations Control Centre and indicated that it had not sustained any damage.

MPA released a media statement - including a photograph of the accident - at around 7pm, after which it was reported by local news outlets.

Videos of the collision were provided to the media only at 8pm that day, MPA said.

On Oct 25 last year, Malaysia unilaterally gazetted altered port limits that went beyond its past claims.

In response, Singapore extended its port limits off Tuas to the full extent of its territorial waters.

Pireas was making a manoeuvre to leave Singapore's port limits off Tuas when it collided with Malaysian government vessel Polaris, which was anchored there.

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

Following the accident, Singapore reiterated its call for Malaysia to withdraw its vessels from Singapore's territorial waters.

"The persistent presence of its vessels clearly poses a threat to safety of navigation in the area," said the Foreign Affairs Ministry in a statement on Sunday.

MPA said in a separate statement on Sunday that Pireas was allowed to carry on to its next port of call at Tanjung Pelepas, Malaysia, after the accident as it was "not considered a very serious marine casualty incident under the International Maritime Organization Marine Casualty Investigation Code".

Malaysia's Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said on Tuesday (Feb 12) that Polaris was well within the Johor Bahru Port line when it came into contact with Pireas.

"The Polaris was in the Johor Bahru Port line, that is our position," Mr Saifuddin told reporters.

He added, however, that Malaysia understood Singapore's concern as the location was the subject of dispute between the two countries.

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