Attempted Armed Robbery


A report where fishing vessels distract the crew at the stern of a vessel whilst others try to board from the bow.


What the Reporter told us:

This incident occurred whilst the vessel was drifting outside port limits off a port in Vietnam. The crew noticed four fishing boats approaching the vessel, two from astern and two from the port bow. The vessels approaching from astern asked the duty crew if we have any scrap items on board.

The Officer of the Watch believed that the two fishing boats astern were a distraction and the fishing boats forward might be suspicious. The Bosun was requested to check the forward end of the vessel carefully. Five pirates armed with knives boarded the vessel from the fishing boats on the bow, and tried to gain access to the forecastle by breaking the padlock. From a safe distance, the Bosun spotted the armed robbers and informed the bridge.


The Officer of the Watch activated the general alarm and informed the Master. Hearing the general alarm, the pirates fled, jumped overboard, boarded the fishing vessels and left the scene. The crew mustered in response to the general alarm and all personnel were accounted for. Investigation later revealed that nothing had been stolen.

Subsequently the Master informed the local VTS but received no response. In addition, the vessel informed IMB Kuala Lumpur, C.S.O, Alternative C.S.O, vessel’s operator, charterers and local agents. The incident will be discussed at the next Company HSE Committee meeting.

Fisherman or pirate? One of the vessels involved in the incident

CHIRP Comment

The Maritime Advisory Board commented that this report reinforces the need for ships’ crews to ensure they have a security plan in place, and they each know their role as listed in the plan. The plan should not be generic but be tailored to suit the circumstances for the area of the world they are in.  This could involve ISPS compliance, Best Management Practices, and intelligence-based reports of any security related activity that warrants defensive measures in a particular area. The incident as reported is similar to many attempted robberies in the Far East, but we have also seen similar reports coming from South America, the Caribbean, and East Africa.


Report Ends