Indonesia - Detention of anchored vessels by the Indonesian Navy

Singapore strait - Ships waiting to enter port of Singapore cropped

The Club would like to alert Members to a recent increase in incidents of detention of vessels anchored in waters off the island of Bintan, Indonesia by the Indonesian Navy. The area in which detentions are conducted has also been expanded. Please see below the quoted email of 07.09.21 from the Club’s correspondents, Spica Services (Indonesia) Wisma PMI, for additional details


  1. We at Spica have recently seen an increase of incidents where the Indonesian Navy have detained vessels anchored in waters off the island of Bintan, furthest to the East in the Singapore Strait.  Not only has the number of detentions increased, but the area in which detentions are conducted has also expanded.
  2. The area North and East of Horsburgh Light is a popular place to anchor, where vessels historically have waited to enter into shipyards, conduct crew change (under covid-19 it takes longer to coordinate and quarantine), await next employment, Charterers’ instructions, etc. However, these waters are within Indonesian territorial waters!
  3. Indonesia has for a long time now campaigned against illegal anchoring, threatening ‘national security’. Their basic claim is that foreign vessels with no business in Indonesia or waiting for later business in Indonesia have anchored up in the area. We see vessels being detained as far away as 60nm from the coast line, believing they are not in Indonesian waters.
  4. When a vessel is located within any territorial waters, it needs to be cleared in and out of that country, unless enjoying the UNCLOS “innocent passage” exception. This also applies if the vessel is only anchored and has no intention of ‘interacting’ with the country but just waiting. It is worth noting that Malaysia campaigns the same way on their side of the area.
  5. That is where the problem lies essentially, and also where the solution is. Appoint an agent, declare the vessel, and keep AIS on at all times.


For more information please get in touch with your Club contact who will be pleased to assist you.

Staff Author