Papau New Guinea, Wewak: Yacht boarded and robbed by armed men – December 2015

At the beginning of December 2015, a 19m private Swedish yacht on a circumnavigation, was anchored in Wewak, East Sepik Province of PNG, when it was boarded by armed men, the crew tied up, and the crew and yacht robbed.

Published 8 years ago, updated 5 years ago

Pirate attack – Wewak, PNG.

POS 3:33.40S 143:37.93E

This report from the yacht:

“We arrived in Wewak on Tuesday the 1st of December. When we anchored near an old fishing boat, a banana boat with some soldiers in came out and told us to move 1000m from that boat because there could be a bomb on board. We later learned that it was a Vietnamese fishing boat that had landed illegally. The crew were in custody in Port Moresby.

“After moving we spent a few hours getting permission to go ashore from Immigration. My main reason for going to Wewak was to pick up a packet with electronic charts that I had sent there. Late afternoon we, therefore, walked to “In Wewak Boutique Hotel” for said packet. No packet. We stayed on for a very nice dinner. We then met Philip the owner of the hotel and he warned us about walking around in the dark. He provided a ride back to the dinghy.

“On Tuesday we once again trundled up the hill to the Hotel. Mable in the reception helped me to trace my parcel, it was stuck in the post office awaiting a hefty customs charge to be paid. I went off to the post office and collected the parcel. On the way back to the boat we talked to the military that was still watching the mysterious Vietnamese boat. They promised to keep an eye on us too.

“After we returned on board, we packed all our purchases away before we enjoyed a nice sundowner and later a nice dinner. About 22.00 we were visited by three of the military that were patrolling around the boats. We invited them on board and shared a few beers together. When they left half an hour later, we started to get ready for bed.

“Suddenly the boat was swarmed by approximately 10 guys, some wearing masks, some not. I heard (a crew member) screaming NO NO NO and he tried to block the entrance from the stern. I saw him pushed away and guys with big machetes climbing on board.

“We were quickly overrun with lots of men with machetes, knives and two pistols that we could see. They proceeded with threatening my crew and tying them up. I was in the Pilot House and managed to run down to my cabin and lock myself in. I keep a second flare gun there and frantically tried to figure out how to load and set it off while they tried to break in through the door. After a couple of minutes, I had worked it out. I then sent up a flare through one of the overhead hatches. After a second flare, they left the boat with all the loot. They raced off in their “banana boat”.

“Meeting up on deck again we were lucky that nobody was hurt. We were all in shock and I continued to shoot up flares to try and alert some help.

“The military showed up about 45 minutes after the attack. The police did not respond. We learned later that several calls were made to them. When they finally arrived, the military were nice and left two armed men on board so we could get some rest. By now it was about 4.00 am.

“The next morning we discovered that our dinghy was slashed in about 10 places and the petrol tank had been stolen. We estimated that the attack did not last more than 3-5 minutes. Those minutes feel like an eternity when you are under duress.

“The list of things stolen was long, estimated value in excess of 10,000 Euros.”

It took several days for the military to make the report on the attack. Despite the fact that the crew could provide descriptions of the pirates, they were not apprehended.

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