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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Meanwhile over in the Singapore Strait: Barges come under pirate atttack

Reported as Pirates target slow barges:
PIRATES struck early on Monday morning, robbing crew members of a Singapore-registered barge and an Indonesian-registered tugboat of cash and personal belongings.

This is the fourth time since early September that the robbers, all believed to be from the same gang, have struck near and around the Batu Berhenti beacon along the Strait of Singapore under cover of night.

At 1.30am on Monday, five marauders armed with parangs boarded the Maju Daya 3, which was sailing north-east of Batu Berhenti.

The tugboat was towing the sand-filled Marcopolo 188 barge to Batu Ampar in Batam.

The robbers took cash, mobile phones and watches worth $3,200 before escaping in a wooden boat equipped with an outboard motor.

The 10 crew members were not hurt and the ship master reported the incident to Singapore's Port Operations Control Centre.

Eng Lee Shipping, which owns the Marcopolo 188, declined to comment.

But the stealthy attack resembled three earlier incidents.

In the first incident, on Sept 8, five masked men armed with parangs and a long knife boarded the Kimtrans Echo, a Singapore-registered tugboat en route to Singapore from Vietnam.

They made off with $550 in cash, mobile phones, watches and walkie-talkies after tying up the six Indonesian crew members.

The next two cases occurred on Oct 4 and Oct 31, and involved a Malaysian-registered coaster, Sin Huat, and a Malaysian-registered tanker, Arowana Ranger, respectively.

Both were travelling from Singapore to Malaysia.

Mr Nicholas Teo, deputy director of ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre, said tugboats and barges are 'slow- moving, making them easy targets, especially in the dark'.
Graphic from The Straits Times.

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