Another hijack in SE Asia

On Saturday June 14th, seven pirates armed with guns and knives in three speed boats boarded and hijacked the product tanker, MT Ai Maru, at around 2030 LT in the South China Sea.

The pirates tied up the crew and locked them in a room before siphoning off some 620 metric tonnes of the ship’s 1520mt Marine Gas Oil cargo.

The ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre acted as soon as it received the report from the shipping company, alerting the regional maritime authorities who deployed naval assets to the area.

In total, six vessels were deployed: a ship from the Royal Malaysian Navy, two from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), two ships from the Indonesian Navy and one from the Royal Singapore Navy. That so many regional forces should coordinate their efforts proves how seriously maritime crime is being taken, and ReCAAP’s swift efforts no doubt helped to ensure that the incident was quickly resolved and that the pirates were only able to steal 620mt of cargo along with crew possessions. When the RSS Gallant arrived on the scene, it found the ship drifting with its shipboard lighting turned on, but the pirates had already fled.

Media reports suggesting the attack was “foiled” obviously miss the point somewhat. Unfortunately, the ship was indeed hijacked and the crew incapacitated while the cargo was stolen. This marks the sixth serious hijacking in South East Asia since April. Hijack for cargo theft remains a serious issue in the region, although the ongoing incidents of armed robbery at sea are more prevalent.

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