An oil tanker carrying gasoline worth an estimated US$ 5.6 million, for Malaysian state owned oil and gas company Pertronas, has been hijacked off the southeast coast of Malaysia.
The Orkim Harmony, owned and operated my Malaysian based Orkim Ship Management, stopped transmitting via its tracking system some time over the weekend, and no communications have been made since.
Malaysia’s Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) have confirmed that the the incident is being treated as piracy, with MMEA’s deputy director-general, vice admiral Ahmad Puzi Abdul Kahar stating “This is a confirmed case of piracy.”
MMEA have also been highly critical of the ships operators, Orkim Ship Management, as Ahmad Puzi claims the MMEA didn’t receive any form of notification about the The Orkim Harmony until at least ten hours after contact was first lost. He stated that the has made the job of the MMEA difficult.
The operators have confirmed that no distress signal was made, and they now think the tracking system has been turned off.
The Orkim Harmony was carrying 22 crew on its voyage to Kuantan port Malaysia, sixteen Malaysians, five Indonesians and one Myanmar national.
Due to the volatility of the fuel onboard, it is expected that the pirates will attempt to bring the ship to land in order to unload, with some sources commenting that they believed it would do this along the Indonesian coast.
This is the second ship to not only go missing in the same region this month, but the second ship belonging to Orkim Ship Management. The Orkim Victory, a sister ship of the Orkim Harmony, went missing earlier this month, when carrying a cargo diesel on the same route. The ship was released back to Orkim, after its cargo was bunkered at sea to smaller waiting vessels.
Figures show that piracy within south east asian waters is on the rise, with hijackings alone, on the up 20 percent compared the same period last year.