Posted on February 11, 2019 by Ilias Kiritsis
Greek-flagged Panamax-class bulk carrier, Pireas, collided with Malaysian Government vessel, Polaris, in the afternoon of February the 8th. Following the incident, Malaysian authorities proceeded to impound the vessel and detain its crew.
The incident occurred at approximately 14:30 local time, just as the ship was exiting Singapore port limits.
According to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), the Pireas had just finished refuelling at Singapore’s eastern bunkering anchorage, south of Bedok at the time.
The vessel was manoeuvring in order to exit the port and head to its next port of call, Tanjung Pelepas, when the collision occurred.
Upon exiting the anchorage, the Pireas slowed down, changed direction and collided with the Malaysian Government vessel, Polaris.
The vessel then proceeded to contact the MPA Port Operations Control Centre (POCC) who instructed the Pireas to stay clear of the area.
“Upon establishing contact with Pireas, MPA Port Operations Control Centre (POCC) instructed Pireas to stay clear of the area. At this point, Pireas reported that prior to contacting MPA POCC, it had collided with Polaris and there was no damage to its vessel,” MPA said in a statement.
The MPA immediately opened an investigation into the incident, as it had occurred in Singapore Territorial waters. It’s currently in the process of gathering and reviewing information, such as vessel records and video footage of the collision.
The damage to the two ships is considered minor; there are currently no reports of injuries or oil leakage from any of the two vessels.
After the incident, the MPA proceeded to issue a second statement.
“MPA is deeply concerned that the presence of the unauthorised vessels in our port limits can cause confusion for the international shipping community and threaten navigational safety in our waters. We advise the shipping community to ensure that vessels operating within Singapore Port Limits comply with the applicable regulations, including reporting their movements and to anchor only within designated anchorages.”
Following the collision, Malaysian authorities proceeded to impound Pireas and detain its crew.
This latest action on behalf of Malaysia showcases the strained relationship between the two nations.
Both sides claim that the incident occurred within their own territorial waters.
The Singapore foreign ministry issued a statement calling for Malaysia to withdraw its vessels from the area.
“The collision between MV Pireas and Malaysian government vessel Polaris took place in Singapore territorial waters. Singapore reiterates its call for Malaysia to withdraw its vessels from the area, as the persistent presence of its vessels clearly poses a threat to safety of navigation in the area.”
In turn, Malaysia’s foreign ministry issued the following statement.
“Malaysia is committed to taking appropriate measures to safeguard its territorial integrity, interests and safe navigation of vessels.”
According to Malaysia’s foreign ministry, the two vessels had communicated before the incident.
Allegedly, Pireas said it would steer clear of the Malaysian vessel but failed to do so.
There is currently no new information as to the status of the vessel and its crew.