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Malaysia Marine Department vessel and Greek bulker collide in disputed waters off Singapore

A vessel belonging to the Malaysia Maritime Department and a Greek panamax bulker collided yesterday afternoon in an incident likely to spark further political tension between Singapore and Malaysia.

The collision occurred at 2:28pm yesterday, according to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), in Singapore Territorial Waters within Singapore Port Limits off Tuas. Malaysian authorities say the incident occurred within Malaysian Territorial Waters in the Johor new port limits.

The Greek bulker Pireas, owned by Chronos Shipping, was on its way from Singapore to Tanjung Pelepas in Malaysia when the collision with buoy-laying vessel Polaris occurred.

“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,” Singapore’s MPA said in a statement.

Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry says the bulker was sighted entering Johor Baru Port Limits, and during communication with Polaris, the crew responded that it will steer clear of Malaysian vessel.

Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded this morning, with the following statement: “The collision between MV Pireas and Malaysian Government vessel Polaris took place in Singapore Territorial Waters off Tuas, and in an area that goes beyond Malaysia’s territorial claim of 1979, which Singapore has never recognised. 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. As we have said previously, Malaysia will be responsible for any untoward situations on the ground that arise from continued deployment of its vessels into this area.”

MPA is investigating the incident, while Malaysian authorities have detained the Greek bulker and crew. No pollution or injuries were reported.

Grant Rowles

Grant spent nine years at Informa Group based in London, Sydney, Hong Kong and Singapore. He gained strong management experience in publishing, conferences and awards schemes in the shipping and legal areas, working on a number of titles including Lloyd's List. In 2009 Grant joined Seatrade responsible for the commercial development of Seatrade’s Asia products. In 2012, with Sam Chambers, he co-founded Asia Shipping Media.
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