Piracy attempt foiled by S'pore, Indonesian navies

Navy personnel on board RSS Independence monitoring the Sam Jaguar, which was hit by pirates yesterday. PHOTO: MINDEF
Navy personnel on board RSS Independence monitoring the Sam Jaguar, which was hit by pirates yesterday. PHOTO: MINDEF

A daring robbery attempt by three pirates in the Singapore Strait yesterday morning was foiled by the navies of Singapore and Indonesia.

At 5.11am, the Maritime Port and Authority of Singapore's Port Operations Command Centre received a report from Liberian-flagged bulk carrier Sam Jaguar that pirates had boarded the ship in the waters east of Pulau Karimun Kecil, Indonesia.

The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) Maritime Security Task Force immediately began close monitoring of the shipping vessel and dispatched littoral mission vessel RSS Independence and Police Coast Guard craft towards the location. This would enable them to respond if the vessel entered Singapore territorial waters.

At the same time, the RSN's Information Fusion Centre (IFC) shared real-time information on the incident with the Indonesian authorities. This helped Indonesia's navy to apprehend the pirates in Indonesian waters. It deployed two ships and a helicopter to board the Sam Jaguar, whose crew members were safe and unharmed. The pirates had been locked in the engine room by the ship's crew.

The IFC head, Lieutenant-Colonel Gary Ow, said: "Today's operational outcome is due to the good cooperation and quick response between Singaporean and Indonesian enforcement agencies."

He added: "By working closely together with the shipping community and littoral states to monitor our waters and share information, we can quickly cue operational responses and keep up the pressure on sea robbers to bring sea robbery incidents down."

The rise in sea robberies in the Singapore Strait has caused concern, with eight piracy attempts reported this year as of last month.

Last year saw a marked uptick in the number of incidents in the strait, with 31 attempts reported. There were seven reported incidents in 2018, eight in 2017, and two in 2016.

In January, the navies of Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand met in Singapore to discuss ways to tackle sea robbery, including quarterly exercises to improve information sharing.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2020, with the headline Piracy attempt foiled by S'pore, Indonesian navies. Subscribe