Thai-flagged product tanker MGT 1 was boarded on September 6 by a group of pirates who tried to take the ship’s oil cargo while the vessel was underway from Rayong port, Thailand to the Andaman Sea.
The incident that took place east of Kuala Dungun, West Malaysia involved 13 armed perpetrators who approached the tanker in two small fast boats, Asia’s piracy watchdog ReCAAP said.
The men boarded the tanker and forced the crew to transfer one million litres of diesel oil (out of 2.2 million litres contained in the tanker) to a mother ship.
However, as the crew managed to activate the SSAS alarm, the tanker was saved by the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).
Once informed of the incident, MMEA dispatched two ships and a helicopter to the location and rescued the tanker earlier today.
ReCAAP said that ten perpetrators were apprehended and search for the remaining three perpetrators is ongoing.
The tanker is now being escorted to Kuala Terengganu for further investigation.
“The rapid apprehension of the perpetrators and successful rescue of the crew and vessel within hours from reporting is a testament to the effectiveness of timely reporting by the ship and effective enforcement by the relevant authorities,” Masafumi Kuroki, Executive Director of ReCAAP, said.
This is the second incident involving theft of oil cargo reported in Asia in 2017. The last incident was the hijack of product tanker C.P. 41 for oil cargo theft that occurred on June 23, 2017, approximately 25 nautical miles east of Kuantan, West Malaysia.
“The ReCAAP ISC is concerned about the recurrence of incidents of hijacking of ship for theft of oil cargo. Ships carrying oil cargo are encouraged to exercise vigilance and adopt precautionary measures,” the watchdog warned.