Greek ship, crew detained after collision with Malaysian vessel in Johor waters

MV Polaris is seen after the collision February 9, 2019. — Picture courtesy of the Malaysian Marine Department
MV Polaris is seen after the collision February 9, 2019. — Picture courtesy of the Malaysian Marine Department

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 9 — The Malaysian Marine Department (Mardep) has detained Greece-registered bulk carrier Piraeus and its crew today after a collision with its vessel MV Polaris in the Johor new port limits earlier today.

In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said the detention was done for a preliminary inquiry as per Section 334(1) of the Malaysian Shipping Ordinance 1952.

“MV Piraeus was sighted entering Johor Baru Port Limits in Malaysian Territorial Waters at 2.15pm. During communication with MV Polaris, MV Piraeus responded that it will steer clear of MV Polaris.

“Despite the clear communication and definitive instructions given, the collision happened on first contact until both vessels were cleared of each other at 2.36pm,” said the statement.

MV Polaris is a civilian vessel providing safety of navigation, usually by laying buoys to mark territory or safety hazards.

Putrajaya puts the collision at 2.26pm, instead of 2.28pm as claimed by the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) of Singapore.

In a statement earlier today, MPA has instead blamed the incident on “unauthorised vessels”, claiming they were present in its so-called waters.

Singapore does not recognise the new port limits announced on October last year, claiming the disputed waters belong to the republic. Instead, it has extended its own port limits over Johor’s.

Mardep said today there is no report of any injury or oil spill arising from the collision.

“Mardep strongly advises ships in Johor Baru Port Limits located in Malaysian Territorial Waters to exercise caution to avoid untoward incidents in the said waters.

“The incident, however, does not hamper any traffic flow and is away from the Traffic Separation Scheme area,” it said.

The tussle over the maritime borders was still left unresolved, even after both foreign and transport ministers held bilateral talks since last month.

Instead, both sides agreed to establish a working group jointly headed by Wisma Putra Secretary-General Datuk Seri Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob and the Permanent Secretary of Singapore’s Foreign Ministry Chee Wee Kion.

The working group was to report to the foreign ministers within two months.  

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