Small tanker piracy warning issued

Jun 20 2014

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has warned small tankers to maintain strict anti-piracy measures in the South China Sea, following a number of hijackings in the region.

More than six known cases of coastal tankers being hijacked for their cargoes of diesel, or gas oil, have been reported to the IMB since April this year, primarily in the South China Sea off Bintan and Bintulu islands.

The latest hijackings appear to follow a pattern, where armed pirates seize a small tanker and transfer its cargo to large bunker barges, or other small tankers in a ship-to-ship operations, the IMB said. In some cases, navigational equipment are destroyed but the crew are unharmed.

Once the cargo has been transferred, the pirates release the vessels.

“These types of incidents are not common in this region, which makes the situation even more alarming”, said the IMB. “The pirates appear to be interested in oil products, such as diesel oil. One of the hijacked tankers was released quickly possibly because the pirates realised it had the wrong type of cargo.”

The IMB advised all vessels, particularly small tankers, to maintain strict anti-piracy measures. Vessels in the area were advised to monitor the IMB PRC satellite broadcast warnings via INMARSAT-C EGC SafetyNet and to report all attacks and suspicious sightings to the IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre.  

The latest case reported was on Thursday 19th June when the Singapore authorities issued an alert after a product tanker went missing the day before in the South China Sea.

The Information Fusion Centre (IFC), part of the Singapore Navy, has asked all vessels in the region to keep a look out for the Indonesia registered 1,832 dwt vessel, ‘Arsenal’.

The ship's owner, Global Marine Transport, said that they lost contact with ‘Arsenal’, along with an accompanying tug, ‘Pawai,’ about 12 nautical miles off Malaysia.

In another incident,, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) confirmed that about 700,000 litres of diesel worth over $434,000 was taken from the tanker ‘MT Ai Maru’ by pirates off Malaysia last Saturday evening.

MMEA also said that they were investigating the alleged involvement of the 13 Thai crewmen and the Indonesian Master, according to local newswires.

The agency said that there were a number of other ships under the same company name that were reported to have been robbed, the last being on 22nd April 22, 2013 off Port Klang, local sources reported.

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