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Error in turning manoeuvre by Greek ship caused collision with Malaysian vessel: MPA

An error in a turning manoeuvre by a Greek-registered bulk carrier caused a collision with a Malaysian government vessel in Singapore waters last month, an investigation has found.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said on Thursday (March 28) that it has completed its probe into the Feb 9 incident and has issued a stern warning to the master of the Pireas carrier.

The Polaris had been anchored in a non-designated anchorage within the Singapore Port Limits when it was hit.

No injuries were reported after the collision, which occurred against the backdrop of an ongoing maritime boundary dispute between Singapore and Malaysia.

The MPA reminded the shipping community to “ensure that vessels operating within Singapore Port Limits comply with the applicable regulations”.

“MPA also reiterates its concern that the presence of unauthorised vessels in Singapore’s port waters can cause confusion for the shipping community and threaten navigational safety in the area,” the authority added.

Following Kuala Lumpur’s unilateral extension of the Johor Baru Port Limits on Oct 25 last year – encroaching into the Republic’s territorial waters – Malaysian government vessels, including the Polaris, have made repeated intrusions into Singapore’s waters.

The new Johor Baru port limits go beyond what Malaysia has been claiming as its own waters in a 1979 map, which Singapore has consistently rejected.

In response, Singapore extended its own port limits on Dec 6, to the full extent of the Republic’s territorial waters.

The stand-off, however, saw a turnaround on March 14, when both countries agreed to jointly suspend the overlapping port claims as a step to start talks to delimit the maritime boundary.

After the collision on Feb 9, Pireas was allowed to carry on to its next port of call in Malaysia, as the accident was “not considered a very serious marine casualty incident under the International Maritime Organization Marine Casualty Investigation Code”, the MPA said earlier.

Pireas was refuelling at Singapore’s eastern bunkering anchorage, which lies south of Bedok, and had informed MPA that it was bound for Tanjung Pelepas, in Johor, before the accident occurred.

Polaris has since left Singapore, and was one of 40 vessels which took part in a fleet review observed by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Wednesday at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition.
Source: Straits Times

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