MMEA wary of speedboats

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 17 Aug 2016

JOHOR BARU: The presence of high powered boats in waters off Johor has raised eyebrows at the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).

Registered overseas, these are known as “phantom boats” and are believed to be used by pirates in search of target vessels along the trade routes.

MMEA southern region First Admiral Adon Shalan said these boats have been spotted in the eastern part of Johor waters, near Penggerang, lately.

“For the past several weeks, our men patrolling these waters have noticed these small boats, which we believe might be collecting information on the location of trading vessels they want to rob.

“The area is an important trade route.

“Also, these boats are equipped with three or four engines, they can speed off easily and escape whenever we give chase,” he told The Star yesterday.

More than 90,000 ships reportedly ply the Straits of Malacca and South China Sea annually.

Adon said these phantom boats, believed to be mostly from Indonesia, can reach top speeds of between 60 knots and 70 knots and would usually enter Malaysian waters between midnight and 3am.

“Once they spot an MMEA patrol boat, they immediately make a run for international waters.

“There, we cannot detain them because it is outside our boundary,” he said.

MMEA has increased its patrols although there has been no piracy incidents in the eastern waters of the state this year.

“Sea robbers don’t want to take the risk of being captured in Malaysian waters because they know our laws are strict, especially if they are caught with firearms or other weapons.

“Based on previous cases, most would throw their weapons into the sea before they are arrested,” he said, adding that cooperation between MMEA and its Indonesian and Singaporean counterparts has made the waters much safer.

He urged ships and other vessels passing through the area to be vigilant and to immediately contact MMEA should they notice suspicious boats.

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