Friday, April 01, 2005

Pirates raid Japanese-owned bulk carrier in Malacca Strait

Pirates raid Japanese-owned bulk carrier in Malacca Strait
Pirates attacked a Japanese-owned bulk carrier in the Malacca Strait and robbed the ship of its cash before escaping in a boat.

"The attack happened early Friday. They boarded the ship and robbed the safe," Noel Choong, head of the Piracy Reporting Centre of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), told AFP.

Choong said the attack took place at One Fathom Bank, a narrow area of the Strait just north of Malaysia's Port Klang at 3.00 am (1900 GMT Thursday).

The ship was the "Ocean Bridge," a Japanese-owned 26,014 ton carrier, an industry official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

This was the fourth pirate attack on shipping in the vital sealane in just over a month, and the second on a Japanese-owned ship. ..

Choong said the IMB was particularly concerned over the latest attack because "it is very rare for pirates to hit ships there.

"Being a narrow part of the Strait, it could pose a navigational threat to other ships, especially if the pirates remove the crew and leave no one on the bridge," he said.

"It appears pirates are attacking ships close to Malaysian waters which are traditionally considered safe," he said, urging the Malaysian authorities to beef up security...

Three pirates boarded a Japanese-owned bulk carrier in the Strait of Melaka early Friday and robbed the crew of US$20,000 (RM76,000) before fleeing in a fishing boat.

None of the 21 crew members, all Filipino, was hurt and the cargo on board was left untouched in the 3am incident, marine police said.

The pirates stopped the Panamanian-registered MV Ocean Bridge in international waters in the waterway 20 nautical miles from Pulau Angsa, Kuala Selangor, near here as the vessel was heading to India from Port Klang, Selangor marine police commander DSP N. Kalai Chelvan said.

Update: After thinking this one over, I'm a little wary. The attack took place in an unusual spot and one press report stated (the last one above) "...the crew only radioed the MRCC about the incident after the ship was about 130 nautical miles from the spot where it was boarded by the pirates." 130 miles? There's something strange with this one...

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