Tanker attack foiled

A daring raid on a small tanker off southern Malaysia was thwarted in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Related map

View the full map

Navies from Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia combined to foil the attack on the 1,007-gt product tanker Ai Maru (built 1978).

Pirates boarded the product tanker from three speed boats in position at 02° 06.90’E, 104° 39.80’E at about 2030 hrs on Saturday.

The Honduras-registered ship had 1,520t of MGO onboard when it departed western Singapore OPL for the Gulf of Thailand.

Whilst the vessel continued to head south-easterly at a speed of about 4.5 knots, the maritime authorities from the three nations deployed assets to the location.

At about 0050 hrs on Sunday, the Ai Maru was observed to be drifting with its shipboard lighting turned on, as authorities closed in.

Initial investigations revealed that seven pirates armed with pistols and knives boarded the ship, tied the crew and locked them in a room.

They damaged the ship’s communication equipment, reportedly siphoned 620t of the MGO, stole the crew’s personal belongings and reportedly fled after seeing the naval forces closing in. The crew was not injured.

Details of this latest incident came in an alert from the Singapore-based Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) Information Sharing Centre.

“The same vessel, Ai Maru had been boarded by pirates in 2012 in the South China Sea with the same intention of siphoning,” said ReCAAP.

“However, the pirates plan was foiled when the authorities were in the vicinity. This time round, the pirates plan was again foiled owing to the quick response from regional maritime authorities.”