Four incidents of piracy and robbery of vessels were reported in Southeast Asia in June 2018. Two attempted robberies were reported at Muara Berau Anchorage, Samarinda. Twelve incidents were recorded at this anchorage in 2018. An attempted boarding of a Bulk Carrier was reported in the Malacca Straits. The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) arrested 16 suspects in connection with a robbery of the Tanker, Lee Bo off Mersing, Malaysia on 1 June 2018. It is believed that the suspects intended to hijack a vessel for oil product, but there was no product on board the Lee Bo at the time.
MT Lee Bo Robbery - 1 June 2018
Fourteen men armed with knives and machetes boarded MT Lee Bo early morning 1 June 2018 off Mersing, Malaysia. After they realised there was no product on board, they stole the crew members’ laptops, mobile phones and money. Two crew members were also injured during the attack.
The MMEA acquired intelligence from a wiretap that a vessel was identified to be hijacked for product at 16:00LT the day before the attack. MT Lee Bo was not the intended target. The syndicate planned to siphon product from the hijacked vessel into a pirate vessel, MT Bright that was nearby. They changed their plans to hijack the MT Lee Bo at the last minute without knowing that there was no product on board at the time.
On 1 June 2018 at 04:00LT MMEA dispatched a helicopter when they received confirmation of a hijacking. After locating the MT Bright, they boarded and searched the vessel. Fourteen pirates were arrested on MT Bright by members of the MMEA. Two gang leaders (Mr A and Mr F) were arrested in Batam, Indonesia at 09:30 Malaysian Time with the help and cooperation of Indonesian authorities.3
MT Bright was flying the Mongolian flag at the time. The vessel is owned by a businessman from Singapore, Jimmy Tan who was also the financier of the operation.
The area north of Singapore off the east coast of Malaysia has been a favourite spot for hijackings of Product Tankers in the past. In 2017 two tankers C.P.41 and MGT1 were hijacked for product in this area. In the case of MGT1 ten pirates were arrested by MMEA. Further information led to the arrest of the mastermind of the hijacking a few days later.
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