Several P&I Clubs have reported that Malaysian authorities had recently launched a 10-day operation known as Ops Jangka Haram (Operation Illegal Anchoring) in an attempt to crack down on foreign vessels that were suspected of anchoring illegally in Malaysian territorial waters.
Britannia Club said that the authorities had been using helicopters to approach the vessels and warn them to leave the area immediately.
If any vessel failed to comply, patrol boats were sent to detain the vessel for further legal action. There had been unverified reports that some vessels were detained without warning.
If a vessel was detained in Malaysian waters a fine was usually imposed. It then would take some time to release the vessel. All of the vessels that IMN has been able to track down as detained remain under detention as of the time of writing.
INTERTANKO has advised that Malaysian law requires all vessels to notify Malaysia’s Director of Marine for specific activities in Malaysian waters as specified in Malaysia Shipping Notice (MSN) 5/2014.
Unfortunately MSN 5/2014 did not define the term “Malaysian waters”. The industry generally interprets the phrase as Malaysia’s 12nm territorial limit.
INTERTANKO said that it had engaged with the Malaysian Ministry of Transport (MOT) to seek further clarification.
Britannia Club recommended that vessels should anchor only in designated areas, with appropriate permission obtained through the local agents.
Standard Club noted that it had previously issued news items about liabilities which ships might face while they are waiting for orders off Singapore OPL, a location where it was not always straightforward for masters to identify what were international waters and what belonged to / was claimed by Malaysia, Singapore or Indonesia, in and around the Singaporean and Malacca Straits.
The Club said that most recently the common offences where ships were being detained in Malaysian waters under section 491B included anchoring without approval and ship-to-ship transfer of bunkers without approval.
Since 2017, 176 ships had been charged under section 491B. Levied fines totalled RM11.48m ($2.75m).
Correspondent SPICA reported that that since March 24th there had been 31 ships that had been detained by the MMEA under Operation Jangkar Haram. The charge had been failing to obtain the relevant permission to anchor in the eastern waters of Johor (South China Sea).
The MMEA is officially urging merchant ship owners to seek permission to anchor in the eastern waters of Johor (South China Sea). Johor Maritime Director Nurul Hizam Zakaria had said that the MMEA would not hesitate to take action against merchant ships which anchored illegally in the eastern waters of Johor.
In support of its actions the MMEA appeared to be using territorial limits prescribed by a 1979 chart. In the waters of Southern Johor, often referred to as Singapore OPL East, these territorial limits are as much as 60nm offshore. Those vessels detained would in all likelihood be charged in Court and where found guilty, fines levied. Whilst the fines levied have historically been modest, typically in the region of RM50,000 per offence (US$12,000), release procedures typically took weeks to conclude.
Standard Club recommended that, should members intend to anchor in the area, they should familiarize themselves with the issues outlined above and give at least 24 hours’ notice before any intended anchoring.
Mr Oon Thian Seng and Ms Jessica Teng from of OON & BAZUL in Malaysia and correspondent SPICA assisted in the drafting of the Standard Club alert.
Some of the ships detained were:
Chemical/oil products tanker Ghetty Bottiglieri (IMO 9232034) was detained in the waters of Tanjung Penawar in Kota Tinggi on April 3, 2021. The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency detained the vessel for illegally anchoring in Malaysian waters. The master and the chief officer were taken to the Tanjung Sedili Maritime Zoning Office for further investigation. As of April 6th the ship remained moored on Pengerang Anchorage.
2002-built, Italy-flagged, 25,063 gt Ghetty Bottiglieri is owned and managed by Giuseppe Bottiglieri Shipping of Naples, Italy. It is entered with UK Club on behalf of Giuseppe Bottiglieri Shipping Company SpA.
On March 29, 2021, crude oil tanker New Dynasty (IMO 9251597) was detained in the waters of Tompok Utara, Johor about 11 miles from Southeast Malaysia OPL. She was detained by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency for allegedly anchoring illegally. As of April 3rd the vessel was still at anchor.
2003-built, Panama-flagged, 160,066 gt New Dynasty is owned by Marea Enterprises SA care of manager New Shipping Ltd of Piraeus, Greece. It is entered with London Club on behalf of Marea Enterprises SA.
On March 29, 2021, crude oil tanker Yolanda (IMO 9255945) was detained in the waters of Tompok Utara in Johor. The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency detained the vessel for illegally anchoring in Malaysian waters.
As of March 31st (most recent AIS detail) the vessel was still at anchor.
2004-built, Panama-flagged, 41,596 gt Yolanda is owned by Nimbus Maritime Co care of manager Sun Shine Ship management Pvt Ltd of Haryana, India.
On March 29, 2021, chemical/oil products tanker Minerva Grace (IMO 9305855) was detained in the waters of Tompok Utara, Johor about 9.5 miles from Southeast Malaysia OPL. The ship was detained by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency allegedly for anchoring illegally. As of April 6th the vessel remained at anchor.
2005-built, Malta-flagged, 29,021 gt Minerva Grace is owned by Oath Enterprises SA care of Minerva Marine Inc of Athens, Greece. It is entered with Standard Club (European Division) on behalf of Oath Enterprises SA.
Crude oil tanker Castor (IMO 9330599) was detained in the waters of Tompok Utara in Johor, on March 29, 2021. The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency detained the vessel for allegedly anchoring illegally.
As of March 31st (most recent AIS information) the vessel remained at anchor.
2006-built, Bahamas-flagged, 58,088 gt Castor is owned and managed by OMC Shipping Pte Ltd of Singapore. It is entered with Gard P&I on behalf of OMC Shipping Pte Ltd
On March 28th The Johor state division of Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) said that, four days into its commencement it had detected 15 vessels anchoring illegally in the Tompok Utara anchorage area. The MMEA detained 13 vessels for anchoring without a permit, but MMEA said that the team had decided to increase its efforts to evict vessels that stubbornly remain.
MMEA reported among the vessels it has detained were oil products tanker Nautica Kota Tinggi (IMO 9546722), oil products tanker Arista Leo (IMO 9828235), oil products tanker JW Jewel (IMO 9402964) and chemical/oil products tanker Liberty (IMO 9134476).
The MMEA said it intensified the level of vigilance by deploying the Special Task and Rescue Force (PTK) team to board said vessels via helicopter to perform surprise inspections.
The MMEA said that it would reinforce its working relationship with the Malaysian Marine Department, which is in charge of issuing various permits for these vessels to operate in Malaysian waters, in order “to optimize the safety of its borders and environment”.
The MMEA announced on March 22nd that waters east of Johor had become a “hotspot” for foreign vessels to anchor illegally and conduct unlawful activities such as illegally releasing oil into the ocean. It was unclear whether this discovery and subsequent crackdown was triggered by the Marine Department of Malaysia saying that it had detected an oil spill 6km in length in the area on March 21st.
2010-built, Malaysia-flagged, 7,591 gt Nautica Kota Tinggi is owned and managed by EA Technique M Bhd of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It is entered with Shipowners’ Club on behalf of EA Technique (M) Berhad. As of April 6th the vessel was at Malacca anchorage.
2018-built, Singapore-flagged, 2,154 gt Arista Leo is owned by Hywel Shipping Pte Ltd care of manager Impex Navigation (Thailand Co) Ltd of Bangkok, Thailand. As of April 6th the vessel remained at anchor.
2007-built, 5,803 gt JW Jewel is owned and managed by Far East Trading Pte of Marine Parade Road, Singapore. As of March 31st (most recent AIS position), the vessel remained at anchor.
1997-built, St Kitts & Nevis-flagged, 6,341 gt Liberty is owned by Goodluck Marine SA care of Shipmate Pte Ltd of Singapore. It is managed by Sinar Cemerlang Marine Sdn Bhd of Johor, Malaysia. As of April 1st (most recent AIS position) the vessel remained at anchor.