Pirates Hijack Oil Tanker in Malacca StraitApril 24, 2014 in Indonesia, Piracy
23 April- Armed pirates have raided an oil tanker in the Malacca Strait off the coast of Malaysia and took three crew members with them. Eight Indonesian pirates in a fishing vessel boarded the Naniwa Maru No 1 at 0100 local time on Tuesday off the coast of west Malaysia. The pirates pumped out nearly 3 million litres of diesel carried by the tanker into two waiting vessels and made off with three Indonesian crew members, including the captain, his first officer, and the chief engineer.
The Naniwa Maru No 1 was hijacked in position 02° 59’N, 100° 54’E, about 16nm off western Malaysia near the town of Port Klang. The ship was en route to Myanmar. The boarding party grouped the 18 crew members in a room and robbed them of mobile phones and cash, while two other ships pulled alongside and drained the tanker for about eight hours.
The Malacca Strait is a route for nearly one fourth of the world’s maritime oil trade. The incident has fuelled fears that piracy could be on the rise in the area, and cause an increase in ship insurance premiums.
Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau’s Malaysia-based Piracy Reporting Centre, said, “It’s the first time this has happened so far north in the Malacca Strait, and the first time they have kidnapped the crew. It’s not an area where we have seen the modus operandi of ships hijacked for their cargo.”
Malaysian authorities have announced they are now investigating whether the missing captain and two senior crew members were involved in the piracy plot. The captain, the chief engineer and first officer, identified as Indonesian nationals, left the ship with their personal belongings and the ship’s manifest. No ransom demand has been made.
Abdul Rahim Abdullah, deputy commander of Malaysia’s marine police said the incident was more sophisticated than a typical pirate attack. “I have discounted kidnapping. Our focus now will be on the involvement of the three crew who were taken away by the perpetrators.”
Abdul-Rahim added that detailed technical knowledge of the ship and its operations would be required to conduct this operation. The tanker and the ships to which it was off-loading had to be kept at a constant speed and on the same course while the diesel was being pumped out.
The Naniwa Maru No 1 is owned by Altra Propserous Ltd. of Saint Kitts and Nevis and is under the management of Canter Singapore Ltd., a Singapore-based company. It is docked in Malaysian waters pending further investigation.
The Strait of Malacca between Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia is one of the world’s busiest waterways and has historically been plagued by piracy, but attacks and armed robbery have declined in recent years. However, a risk of armed robbery remains present in ports and anchorages regionally. Vessels are urged to review their anti-piracy plans to mitigate the risk of attacks in the eastern extent of the Malacca straits. Risk of violence directed at crew members can be high.