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Friday, May 21, 2010

South China Sea Pirates: Pirated Malaysian Tug and Barge Found in Philiippines

When last heard from, the tug "Atlantic 3" and its barge, "Atlantic 5" were taken by pirates off Malaysia, the crew set adrift and the vessels were thought to be heading northeast through the South China Sea.

Now comes a report that this tug and barge have been located in the Philippines. Reported asPiracy query over ships found in Philippines:
The Philippines coast guard has apprehended a Malaysian barge and tugboat in the country's waters, in the process of having registration details altered.
Information on the vessels' documents and in machinery, as well as their registration numbers and the names "Atlantic 3" on the tugboat and "Atlantic 5" on the barge were being defaced.
Philippines Coast Guard officials suggest some sort of regional piracy ring is in operation.

Point "A" on the map shows approximate location of the taking of the vessels by pirates, Point "B" is approximate location where they were found.

Philippines Coast Guard report here:
Commodore Lino Dabi, Commander of Coast Guard District South Eastern Mindanao said that personnel of Coast Guard Station General Santos who boarded and inspected the said vessels have confirmed the vessels to be MT ATLANTIC 3 and Barge ATLANTIC 5. According to the apprehending team, the said vessels are apparently in the process of altering their ships’ description by defacing their names on the hull and ships’ documents and machineries, and their IMO registration numbers. Investigation is ongoing with the end in view of establishing the identities of suspects. The incident has already been reported by the PCG to the Regional Cooperation Against Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea (RECAAP) based in Singapore in order to gather and disseminate more information about the recovery of the said vessels.

Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Wilfredo D Tamayo commended personnel of Coast Guard Field Station and Coast Guard Station General Santos headed by CDR Charlie Rances for the said apprehension, and further directed all Coast Guard units around the country to increase their vigilance and intensify campaign against pirates, recover hijacked vessels, and go after vessels reportedly involved in drugs, human trafficking, and other transnational crimes.  With the said recovery of hijacked vessels, both present and in recent months, Admiral Tamayo believes that a regional “modus operandi” on piracy of vessels and smuggling has virtually been uncovered.
Photo montage from Philippines Coast Guard.

ReCAAP report (pdf) can be found here (pdf format).

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