An Indonesian Navy (TNI AL) patrol boat foiled a piracy attempt on Tuesday night in the Malacca Strait, somewhere between Indonesia and Singapore.
The attempt was made by a group of men armed only with swords.
Batam TNI AL naval base commander Col. Iwan Isnurwanto told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday that the Indonesian-registered freighter, the MV Lucky Star VIII, was carrying produce and spices from Dumai, Riau, to Songhkla Port in Thailand.
The ship was reportedly hijacked by the pirates as the Navy’s KRI Kelabang 826 was out on patrol.
“The navy boat intercepted the freighter and found its 13-crew members tied up while the pirates were maneuvering the ship toward Malaysia,” Iwan said at the Batam naval base in Tanjung Sengkuang.
According to Iwan, the Navy has impounded the 200-ton MV Lucky Star VIII at the Batu Ampar Port in Batam for further investigation.
Based on a preliminary investigation, the alleged pirates were a Singaporean named Muhammad Yazid bin Hasan, a Malaysian named Nurkholis and the rest were Indonesians.
“We have yet to determine who the mastermind was. They used sharp swords to hijack the freighter,” Iwan said, without disclosing the number of pirates.
Despite the incident, Iwan said the attack did not mean security in the Malacca Strait was lax. He said there were always safety threats but that security forces had everything under control.
The hijacking attempt occurred because the pirates had taken advantage of the bad weather, he said.
“We advise ships to be extra careful when navigating the Malacca Strait. In spite of the lurking threat of piracy, the acts of pirates here are not as brutal when compared to those in Somalia,” Iwan said.
KRI Kelabang 826 commander Maj. Bambang Waskito said the pirates employed a high-powered wooden boat for the attack, and used swords to overpower the freighter’s crew members.
“What they did was very daring. It is believed they subdued the crew members with only swords and martial arts expertise,” Bambang said.