Oil tanker not hijacked, search on for missing 10 crew members: Indonesia
An oil tanker carrying 900,000 litres of diesel, believed hijacked in Malaysia, has been taken back to Indonesia by its crew, following a commercial dispute, the Indonesian navy said on Wednesday. Malaysian and Indonesian maritime authorities are searching for the tanker with 10 crew members that has disappeared in an apparent hijacking.
“The preliminary assessment is the vessel was not hijacked but was taken by the crew back to Batam,” the Indonesian navy said in reference to the island near Singapore. The navy said the captain had contacted its agent twice to say the vessel was returning to Batam because of an internal management problem within the company. The incident is “linked closely to internal problems between the (Indonesian) owner, the (Malaysian)charterer and the (Indonesian) crew,” said Mohamad Taha Ibrahim of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.
Earlier Malaysian maritime authorities said the vessel had been hijacked and was heading towards Indonesian waters. “Initial investigations on the MT Vier Harmoni revealed that the ship was hijacked due to internal problems,” Ahmad Puzi Kahar, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency chief, tweeted. He did not elaborate, but the phrase “internal problems” has been used to refer to involvement by a ship’s crew.
Puzi added the ship was transporting diesel worth about 1.57 million ringgit ($392,000). A scourge for centuries, piracy in Southeast Asian had been significantly reduced over the decade thanks to stepped-up regional cooperation and maritime patrols. In 2015 the region was struck by a string of hijackings with criminal gangs targeting slow-moving tankers carrying valuable petrol which they would offload and sell.