A ship’s master has been hospitalised after being attacked during the boarding of his vessel in the Strait of Malacca early on Friday.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore confirmed the incident in a statement over the weekend, but few details were made public.

“The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) operated by the MPA was notified this morning at about 4:30am of an alleged case of sea robbery onboard a Marshall Islands-flagged bulk carrier, in the Strait of Malacca, outside Singapore’s territorial waters,” the MPA said of the incident.

MRCC reportedly directed the unnamed vessel to anchor off the western part of Singapore to facilitate a search by Singapore’s Police Coast Guard.

“The search has been completed onboard and nothing was reported missing,” the MPA said.

“The shipmaster who was hurt in the incident is reported to be in stable condition and has been conveyed ashore to seek medical treatment.”

The incident is the latest in an escalation of commercial vessels being targeted by opportunistic thieves in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS).

There have now been over 60 incidents reported in the SOMS since the beginning of 2023, according to the Singapore-based Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia, known as ReCAAP.

ReCAAP has advised owners to continue to exercise enhanced vigilance when transiting SOMS; and the littoral states to increase patrols and enforcement in the area.

In a report in late July 2023, it blamed the increase in incidents on a range of socio-economic factors worsened by the pandemic, lower fish catch due to climate change as well as the prevailing south-west monsoon.

“These factors may have led the locals of the Strait to turn to sea robbery and petty crimes to make ends meet,” it said.

Last week, two Greek-owned bulkers were the subject of separate incidents of armed robbery in the SOMS off Pulau Cula and Karimun Kecil, according to ReCAAP’s latest weekly report.

The incidents involved Moundreas Shipping’s 170,600-dwt Etoile (built 2001) and Navios Maritime Partners’ 77,100-dwt Navios Helios (built 2005).

In both incidents, the attackers were said to have been armed with knives, but no injuries were sustained to the crew of either ship.