SINGAPORE: Malaysian buoy-laying vessel Polaris and a Greece-registered ship collided in Singapore waters on Saturday (Feb 9), the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said.
Polaris and bulk carrier Pireas collided at 2.28pm on Saturday within Singapore port limits off Tuas, MPA said in a statement.
The Greek vessel was on its way from Singapore to its next port of call at Tanjung Pelepas in Malaysia when the collision took place.
“MPA is deeply concerned that the presence of unauthorised vessels in Singapore port limits can cause confusion for the international shipping community and threaten navigational safety in our waters,” it said.
There are no reports of an oil leak, the authority said, adding that it was investigating the collision.
There were also no injuries to the crew of both vessels, said Mr Baharin Abdul Hamid, the Director-General of Malaysia’s Marine Department (MARDEP), in a statement. He added that the Greek vessel was instructed to sail to the Port of Tanjung Pelepas and that the department has commenced a preliminary inquiry into the incident.
Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a release that MARDEP has detained the Greek vessel and crew “for purposes of a preliminary inquiry”.
According to the Marine Traffic website, Pireas is a 200m cargo vessel built in 2006.
Singapore and Malaysia have been embroiled in a maritime dispute after Malaysia in October last year extended its Johor Bahru port limits, which Singapore says encroaches into its territorial waters.
In late November, Malaysian government vessels started intruding into Singapore waters, Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said.
Speaking in Parliament on Jan 14, Dr Balakrishnan said these “daily intrusions” have continued despite Malaysia saying it will “take all effective measures to de-escalate the situation on the ground”.
Singapore has protested Malaysia’s extension of its port limits and the intrusions, Dr Balakrishnan said, calling on both sides to act in good faith, comply with international law and honour existing agreements.
Dr Balakrishnan’s ministerial statement came after a bilateral meeting with his Malaysia counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah on Jan 8. Both ministers agreed to set up a working group on maritime issues to study and discuss legal and operational matters, so as to de-escalate the situation on the ground.
The working group is expected to report to the foreign ministers within two months.