MMEA Foil Pirates' Sale of Syphoned Bunkers

Thursday September 20, 2012

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) on Friday prevented an attempt by six pirates from syphoning off and selling bunker fuel from a hijacked vessel in the waters off Tanjung Piai in Pontian, Malaysia, the New Straits Times reports.

MMEA southern region enforcement chief First Admiral Adon Shalan said they spotted unusual ship-to-ship activity between MT Scorpio and MT Sea Jade at 2.15pm and as a nearby MMEA patrol boat approached the two vessels, six masked men were seen fleeing in a wooden boat installed with a high-powered engine, which was next to MT Scorpio.

Investigations onboard MT Scorpio indicated that the vessel had been hijacked, and all 12 crew members, which consisted of 10 Indonesians, a Chinese national, and a Sri Lankan, had their hands tied.

"Three of them sustained injuries after they were attacked by the pirates, who also took their cash and belongings, such as laptops and handphones," said Shalan.

"The pirates left six parang [machetes] onboard. They appeared to have ransacked the whole vessel. Investigation showed that one of the pirates was armed with a pistol and that they had hijacked the vessel at midnight on Thursday," he added.

Additional investigation showed fuel-siphoning activity and indicated that the pirates, having tied up the crew, impersonated crew members of MT Scorpio and offered to sell fuel to MT Sea Jade at a below-market price.

Adon said that he believed that the crew onboard the MT Sea Jade had a connection with the pirates and all 12 crew members, which consisted of 10 Myanmars and 2 Indonesians, had been detained to assist in the investigation.

"It is wrong to siphon fuel from one vessel to another without a permit," he said.

The six pirates were believed to be members of a syndicate with a wide network in monitoring vessel movement along the Straits of Malacca, especially off the west coast of Johor, the report said.