Pirates Attempt to Board Two Tankers near Singapore

September 14, 2009

Pirates attempted to board two tankers in a busy shipping lane off southern Malaysia on Monday, a regional government security agency said.

Five men tried to board Panama-registered tanker Pacific Harmony early on Monday near the southern Malaysian port of Tanjung Ayam, just to the east of Singapore, according to the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP). The men fled on hearing the ship’s alarm system.

Two hours later, six men with long knives tried to board Malaysia-registered chemical tanker MMM Kingston. They fled in a speed boat after seeing the crew had been alerted.

ReCAAP said the same group was probably involved and advised shipping crews to take precautions since there had been six such cases this year in the area, all during the night while the ships were anchored.

“That area is high risk … there have been a number of attacks in that area,” said Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur, confirming the two attacks.

Many ships have been laid up in the waters around Singapore, the world’s busiest container port and a key refuelling hub, after the slide in global trade following the financial crisis.

The South China Sea is the shortest route between the Pacific and Indian oceans and has some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, with more than half of global oil tanker traffic passing through the area.

(Reporting by David Chance in Kuala Lumpur and Neil Chatterjee in Singapore; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

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