The alert follows the hijacking of three tugboats and a barge in recent weeks. These were the first hijackings in the region in 2011, and mark a departure from the usual modus operandi of pirates in this region who are usually opportunistic and rob vessels before fleeing with the proceeds.
IMB-PRC Manager Noel Choong commented: “As most bigger ships in this area have transmitters on board to help authorities locate them, we believe that pirates in this area are hijacking tugboats which are small and are not required to have transmitters”.
The most recent incident occurred on 1 June 2011 when the IMB received a distress signal from an Indonesian tugboat of Batam Island. Authorities were subsequently able to locate the vessel and detain the pirates.
A few days prior, pirates successfully hijacked a tug and barge travelling between Borneo Island and Port Klang. The barge was later located whilst a fishing vessel rescued the crewmembers who were left adrift. Another tug was hijacked, between Singapore and Cambodia, on 24 March 2011. The crew were again abandoned on a raft in the South China Sea. The tug and barge are still missing.
“We are urging ships to be on their lookout as unlike in places like Somalia, pirates in these waters abort their attack once spotted”, Mr. Choong continued. IMB strongly urges all shipmasters and owners to continue to report all worldwide actual, attempted or suspicious piracy and armed robbery incidents to the IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre.
IMB Piracy Reporting Centre can be contacted:
PO Box 12559,
Tel: + 60 3 2078 5763
Fax: + 60 3 2078 5769
Telex: MA34199 IMBPCI