Being Underway Doesn’t Make You Safe in the Singapore Strait

Singapore strait ships
Ships at anchor off Singapore

Over the past few years, much of the news surrounding piracy at sea has been focused on the highly publicized attacks off Africa, however in many other parts of the world, the possibility of having armed, uninvited, and unfriendly guests show up on board is quite real.  This is the situation faced by the hundreds of ships anchored off Singapore, and it appears to be getting worse.

Dryad Maritime has issued an advisory to its clients regarding a spate of boardings occurring while the vessels have been underway in the western part of the Singapore Strait.  They note that at least 5 vessels have been boarded in the past week 5 or 6 weeks in that area while underway.

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“The current spate of boardings at the Western end of the Singapore Strait highlights the requirement for anti-piracy measures to be adopted by all vessels transiting the area,” notes Ian Millan, Director of Intelligence at Dryad Maritime.  “The financial cost of stolen engine spares and ships stores might not be significant, but the negative effect of these crimes on the crew members can be. While no significant injuries to crew members have so far been reported, the discovery of armed personnel on board a vessel can lead to a serious loss of morale in seafarers operating in such waters.”

Dryad notes the attacks typically happen at night and involve 4 to 7 attackers in a single wooden boat who gain access to the vessel and hold the crew hostage as necessary while the theft is carried out.