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Pirates Storm Navy-Leased Ship, Steal $19,000

January 30, 1985

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A band of pirates boarded an American cargo ship leased to the Navy on Tuesday as it passed through the Strait of Malacca, tying up the ship’s captain and making off with $19,471 from the ship’s safe, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

The incident occurred at night off the coast of Indonesia as the SS Falcon Countess was traveling from Bahrain to Guam, the Military Sealift Command said in a statement. No one was injured in the incident and the ship continued on its route.

The assault by the pirates, who were said to be armed with knives and bayonets and traveling in a speedboat, is the second in two years involving a Navy-chartered ship in the Strait of Malacca. The Sealift Arctic was boarded by pirates on Jan. 10, 1983, prompting the Navy to issue instructions calling for guards to be posted when traveling through the area.

The Military Sealift Command said guards had been posted on the Falcon Countess, but that their special watch ″had just ended as the ship was leaving the ’pirate zone.‴

According to the command, piracy attacks in the area have become almost routine since 1981 and most commercial oil tankers traversing the strait have begun posting guards as well.

The Falcon Countess was traveling at roughly 131/2 knots at the time of incident, according to the Pentagon statement. The pirates apparently used bamboo poles with hooks to climb from their boat on to the ship’s stern.

″The pirates then rifled the ship’s safe, taking $19,471, and threatened and tied up the master, Capt. William Haney of West Palm Beach, Fla.,″ the statement said.

The ship is chartered to the Military Sealift Command by Seahawk Management Inc. of Houston, Texas, and was transporting jet fuel and diesel oil under Navy contract. The Pentagon said marine police in nearby Singapore had been informed of the incident.

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