A Malaysian-registered tanker that disappeared a week ago in a suspected hijacking has been detected in Cambodian waters with a new name and fresh coat of paint, Malaysia’s navy chief said.
Abdul Aziz Jaafar said Malaysian and Australian aircraft were shadowing the MT Orkim Harmony, which vanished last Thursday off the southeastern Malaysian state of Johor along with its crew of 22.
“We have found the vessel and RMAF (Malaysian air force), MMEA (Malaysian coast guard) and RAAF (Australian air force) aircraft are tailing it from the air,” he was quoted as saying by the state-run Bernama news agency.
The London-based International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has repeatedly warned that the waters of Southeast Asia were becoming the world’s piracy hotspot. The IMB said pirates were increasingly preying on slow-moving small coastal tankers and that one attack is occurring every two weeks.
Typically, armed pirates seize control of the ships and syphon off their cargoes of diesel or gas oil to other vessels before later releasing the tankers and crews.
The MT Orkim Harmony was said to be carrying 6,000 tonnes of petrol valued at 21 million ringgit ($5.6 million). Its crew includes 16 Malaysians, five Indonesians and one Myanmar national.
The vessel was en route from the port of Malacca on the west coast of Malaysia to Kuantan on the South China Sea. The ship’s owners were last in contact with it on June 11.