Indonesian navy detains Singapore vessel for smuggling goods in Batam waterway

The LCT Emperor was allegedly used for smuggling used television sets, refrigerators and other household items on Sunday.

Singapore-flagged vessel detained by Indonesian navy for smuggling goods
A Singapore-flagged vessel waiting at the port Reuters (Representational Image)

A Singapore-flagged vessel, along with its 12 crew members, was detained by the Indonesian navy on Sunday for allegedly smuggling used television sets, refrigerators and other household items from the city state.

A 835-tonne landing craft tank named LCT Emperor was stopped in Tanjung Pinggir waters just off Batam in the Riau Islands province in the early hours on Sunday.

S. Irawan, the Tanjung Pinang-based naval commander, said navy officers who were on duty on a patrol craft spotted several smaller boats approaching the vessel.

They observed the crew of the Emperor unloading goods into the smaller boats in open sea. Once it was done, the ship sailed towards the Sekupang logistic seaport in Batam.

"We have detained the crew because they brought in used goods without permits. We have since notified Singapore about this arrest and are now investigating the crew," the naval commander told The Straits Times on Monday.

Reports say the Emperor departed on Saturday from Jurong Port in Singapore. The preliminary investigations showed that the ship did not have the required travelling documents while the captain also failed to show a valid piloting license.

Commander Irawan said the goods which were carried by the vessel were registered to Singapore firm Toll Logistic. He also added that during the arrest the seized goods were not logged in the shipping manifest.

This arrest comes after Indonesia increased its sea patrols which are primarily targeted to the illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. This move was taken after President Joko Widodo announced the plans to beef up the country's fisheries sector in recent years.

The recent arrests in Indonesian waters that involve Singaporeans or Singapore-flagged vessels include fishing boats MV Selin and the Seven Seas Conqueress. Both of these were piloted by Singaporean captains.

In 2015, the Indonesian Transport Ministry detained two Singapore vessels which allegedly had no permits, while they were piloting a tanker travelling through Indonesian waters in the Malacca Strait.