EXCLUSIVE: American Ship Captain, Accused of Anchoring Illegally,


The agent put some caveats in the message as to where to anchor but typically captains don’ t really have the time or the resources to check on the agents advice, especially when lacking in local knowledge.

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A sorry story that makes one glad to be retired. Those still out there should ask themselves “am I getting paid enough to put up with this shit!”


They couldn’t just ask the captain to move???

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The extortion scheme would be less effective if they asked their marks to move along before paying.


I’m going to Singapore but I will anchor in Indonesia while I wait, huh?

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If he anchored in Singapore Eastern or probably the Western Anchorage he would have to engage a pilot. The company had
not instructed the agency to order a pilot so they would save some money.
In my humble opinion the lack of support by his employers would be against the mission statement or what ever they chose to call it where they state our employees are our most valuable asset. I think this would give fertile ground for the right lawyer and a long and comfortable retirement beckons. Mr Cato might wish to comment.

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It would certainly cost more to anchor in Singapore than for free in Indonesia…
You dont necessarily need a pilot to anchor in Singapore, not sure of the criteria but I think most anchor without one.

Wrong! Pilotage are compulsory within Singapore Port Limitis, unless the Master has a Pilot Exemption. Even Harbour crafts and pleasure vessels need to have a PIC that holds a license to operate within port limits.

Another possibility is that the anchorages within port limits were full, or that the waiting time were expected to exceed the time limit for remaining at an anchorage in Singapore. Port dues increases by 100% after a certain time and double again at another time limit to ensure that nobody feel tempted to stay too long.

Reclamations the last 3-4 decades have eaten into the anchorage areas. West Jurong Anchorage has been unavailable for most ships since 2015 due to construction of the new Tuas Container Terminal

APL Map_Rev02.ai almarine.com.sg:

PS> In this case the ship was anchored outside Singapore Strait and outside Indonesian territorial waters, which has become common since both Malaysian and Indonesian authorities has found a new source of revenue.

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as usual wrong or maybe right 50 years ago…

The amount of traffic coming into Singapore every day versus how many pilots say most dont use pilots to anchor.
When I first came to Singapore in 89 there were over 100 PSA pilot vessels, I doubt there are 20 today.
EDIT>> 29
Never been an issue when I was on board a psv or ahts, just followed vts and dropped the anchor.
Pleasure craft cant anchor in Singapore so thats irrelevant.

No not wrong. As I said Pilot Exemptions are granted in Singapore.
It is granted to Masters on ships of certain types and sizes that calls regularly.
Many Masters on OSV/PSVs that call at Loyang Marine Base regularly have such exemptions.

50 years ago pilotage was NOT compulsory for ship anchoring on Eastern Anchorage but it was compulsory when entering Keppel Harbour, or going to a shipyard in Jurong or Sembawang.

You couldn’t even get a Pilot to go to Telok Ayer Basin, or to anchor at the Inner Anchorage.
This picture is from 1980, just before reclamation started to create Marina South, where Marina Bay Sands stands today:

Nor did I say that pleasure boats needed Pilots, or anchored in Singapore. You DO need a license to operate one within Singapore waters, as you well know.


TE Subcom/ Subcom, which the marine divison is run out of the office in Baltimore, has a very old school mentality. Also I am not shocked with the response of the Director of Fleet operations at that company.

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Looking at the rare sight of a pilot boats out on the water i’d say they only do ships going to container docks these days. Very rare to see one passing Changi.
After spending a week on a PSA tug, i noticed they pick them up just before the dock at about the same time as the tug gets there.
Several cases were they couldnt get a pilot and the captain was on the ball, tug put the box ship on the dock, feeder ship size.
In many cases they come off the dock with no pilot.

This entire discussion about pilots in irrelevant.

From the article:

Ledoux, a sailing master for over 25 years and a SubCom employee for eight, had received detailed instructions from the company’s Ben Line agent in Singapore directing him where to anchor as he waited for the shipyard to clear him. The message came with some caveats, however:

Good day to you.

Message well received, please be advised that vessel will not have any issue entering Singapore if she anchors at OPL(“outside port limits”).


yep thats true but you need to be outside somebodies territorial waters…like DOH

Isn’t an agent just an advice giver same as a pilot?

If the pilot says you should drive over the dry stuff you should know better. If you don’t know better then it’s not the pilot’s fault. It’s not the companies fault. Master is at fault.

So if an agent tells you to park it in an illegal area, and you do it, then is the pilot or company at fault? Naw, the master didn’t do his due diligence and so he goes to jail.

I know the whole thing is a scam. We all see that. But it seems like the hustle wasn’t that ingenious to begin with. Was the guy too trusting or unobservant? Maybe the demotion to second mate was appropriate?


The captain in your example is going to check the pilots information against other sources, the chart for one. This is SOP.

However there’s a limit to how much checking is worthwhile. If the pilot says it’s deep water and the chart agrees should the captain send a crew in a boat with a leadline to check? Most likely not worth it. Risk can never be eliminated entirely and increased mitigation efforts have diminishing returns.

The same hold true in this case. The agent’s information should be checked but only up to a limit.

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This, from the article in the OP is very good advice.

> “Vessel masters train their entire careers to be ready for whatever situation they may encounter at sea. They should take the same approach to prepare for vessel detentions and other situations in which their personal interests diverge from their company’s interests. Prepare ahead of time,” advised McNamara. “Who will you call? Who is your attorney? What locations along your voyage route raise geopolitical risks and concerns? Have conversations with your employer ahead of time about concerns and risks along a route; communication is key.”

Atul Gawande makes the same point.

This may in fact be the real story of human and societal improvement. We talk a lot about “risk management”—a nice hygienic phrase. But in the end, risk is necessary. Things can and will go wrong. Yet some have a better capacity to prepare for the possibility, to limit the damage, and to sometimes even retrieve success from failure.

When things go wrong, there seem to be three main pitfalls to avoid, three ways to fail to rescue. You could choose a wrong plan, an inadequate plan, or no plan at all. Say you’re cooking and you inadvertently set a grease pan on fire. Throwing gasoline on the fire would be a completely wrong plan. Trying to blow the fire out would be inadequate. And ignoring it—“Fire? What fire?”—would be no plan at all.

From here:


So is this a nice scam where agents send you to a spot to anchor, you get a fine, and presumably they get a cut?


Sorry, your conspiracy theory doesn’t apply here.
Ben Line Agency is a reputable agency that has existed since 1825 and operated in Asia since 1859:

The “conspiracy” is with the Indonesian Authorities in Batam/Bintan that has found a new and lucrative source of income.

They are not alone. Across the Strait the Malaysian has played this game for a long time now.
There it is partly political as well as economical. They are looking at something to blame Singapore for Ships have used their waters as anchorages (OPL East and OPL West) when waiting for new charter etc., or for transshipment (STS), while being serviced from Singapore for fuel, food and crew change.
Besides, there are dispute over maritime borders, the Pedra Blanca Islets, reclaiming of land and plain jealousy.