AUSTRALIANS are believed to be among more than 50 commercial divers who survived a pirate attack on their vessel about 160km from Singapore in the early hours of Saturday morning.
About 10 pirates – believed to be Indonesians – armed with knives
and guns boarded the Ocean Winsertor about 3am and stripped those on board of all valuable personal belongings, including
mobile phones and laptop computers. The pirates, who demanded access to the ship's safe, cut communications lines before
leaving, but one of the crew managed to raise the alert on a satellite phone before the attack was over.
A manager of
the ship's parent company, Global Industries, said a total of about 55 Australians, New Zealanders, Britons and Canadians
were aboard the 70-berth vessel, one of a fleet of 20 used by clients in the oil and gas industry. He said it was the
first attack on one of the company's ships and was "brazen" because of the proximity to Singapore. "This is something
that happens to others, but not to us," he told The Australian. Singapore's Sunday Times reported that one crew member
had a rope tied around his neck and another was hit on the head with a bar, but no one else was injured. About half those
on board were asleep when the pirates boarded the vessel from two small boats. They fired a warning shot and then held
their victims at gunpoint.
"A lot of us thought that was it," a diver in his 30s, who did not want to be
identified, told the Times. "We didn't know whether they would kill us."
The pirates fled with several laptop
computers, mobile phones and thousands of dollars in cash.
The 900km Strait of Malacca is notorious for pirate
attacks, of which 28 occurred in 2003. Security analysts fear terrorists might join pirates to launch an attack on a ship.
The International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Centre called on the Indonesian Government to police the
region's hot spots.
"Indonesia still tops the list (of attacks)," regional manager Noel Choong said. "The
Indonesian Government has to be more serious and committed in policing the pirate cases and patrolling the hot spots."
He said more than 90 per cent of piracy incidents in the region were opportunistic attacks by small gangs, while
the others were organised crime attacks on container ships.
Source: The Australian