Polaris-Pireas collision in Singapore: how it happened?

Greece-registered bulk carrier Pireas (left) collided with Malaysia's buoy-laying vessel Jabatan Laut Polaris at 2.28pm on Feb 9, 2019. (Image: Singapore Police Force)

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SINGAPORE, Feb 10, 2019, CNA. A collision between a Greece-registered ship and a Malaysian government vessel occurred in Singapore territorial waters off Tuas on Saturday (Feb 9) afternoon. The Greek bulk carrier was on its way from Singapore to its next port of call at Tanjung Pelepas in Malaysia when the collision took place, reported the Channel NewAsia.

The Maritime Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has launched an investigation into the incident, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has reiterated “its call for Malaysia to withdraw its vessels from the area”.

What is the Polaris?

The Jabatan Laut Polaris is a buoy-laying vessel that was built in 2017. The vessel, which measures 84m by 16m, can stay at sea for 35 days without resupplies.

It belongs to the Malaysian Marine Department and is used to mark territory or safety hazards.

The Polaris has been in and out of Singapore’s waters since Dec 3 amid an ongoing maritime territorial dispute.

According to the Marine Traffic website, Pireas is a 200m cargo vessel built in 2006. It measures 225m by 32m and is registered in Piraeus, Greece.

How did the collision happen?

The MPA said in response to queries that the Pireas had refuelled at Singapore’s eastern bunkering anchorage south of Bedok on Saturday.

After refuelling, Pireas declared to MPA that its next port of call would be Tanjung Pelepas in Malaysia, the authority said on Sunday.

At 1.55pm, Pireas entered Singapore’s port limits off Tuas, before slowing down and changing direction. It collided with Polaris at 2.28pm.

“Upon establishing contact with Pireas, MPA Port Operations Control Centre (POCC) instructed Pireas to stay clear of the area,” the authority said.

“At this point, Pireas reported that prior to contacting MPA POCC, it had collided with Polaris and there was no damage to its vessel. Pireas informed that the collision occurred when it was making a manoeuvre to get out of the area,” MPA added.

There were no reports of injuries or oil leakage.

As the collision was not considered to be very serious under the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Marine Casualty Investigation Code, Pireas was allowed to proceed with its journey to Tanjung Pelepas, MPA said.

What happened after the collision?

MPA said that it launched investigations immediately as the incident took place in Singapore territorial waters.

It also sent official notification of the collision to both the Marine Department Malaysia and Greece’s Hellenic Bureau for Marine Casualties Investigation.

Additionally, the authority said it is gathering and reviewing information, such as the vessel records and video footage of the collision.

It has also requested a formal incident report from both vessels, and contacted Pireas’ agent in Singapore to assist in the investigations.

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