PETALING JAYA: MT Joaquim, which was reported missing on Saturday night and later found in Indonesian waters near Pulau Rupat, will be towed to Malacca before its navigation system is scrutinised.
Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency deputy-director general (operations) Maritime Vice-Admiral Datuk Ahmad Puzi Ab Kahar said it was vital to determine the time and position of the tanker’s disappearance to ensure that the incident did occur in Malaysian waters.
“We have to be certain of the exact position of the tanker and how long the robbers took to siphon the fuel oil before we can share the details of the investigation.
“At the moment, we are still waiting for the Singapore-registered company to arrange towing the vessel to Malacca,” he said.
Puzi added that the crew members would also be interviewed once the tanker has been towed.
“Even with closed-circuit television cameras installed, some land robberies remain unsolved. What more when it comes to sea?
“So we need to really investigate the matter thoroughly. We will also be working closely with our Singaporean counterparts in this case,” he said.
Puzi also clarified that the incident was not a hijacking but instead a clear cut robbery.
“It is only hijacking if a ransom was made,” he said.
Based on information given by a representative of the tanker’s company, 3,500 metric tonnes of marine fuel oil was missing.
MT Joaqim was 1.5 nautical miles outside Malaysian waters when it was robbed.
The ship’s last reported location at 1.50pm on Saturday was 21.9 nautical miles west off Port Dickson.
It was reported that MT Joaquim was the third tanker to be forcefully boarded in the Strait of Malacca this year, following two other cases on March 2 and Feb 15.
Before the disappearance of MT Joaquim, there were already 12 other similar cases in South-East Asian waters, including six Malaysian registered tankers, since the beginning of the year.
The number is alarming compared with last year’s total of 15 reported hijacked ships, eight of which were carrying cargo of fuel.
Most hijackings involve small groups of armed pirates, moving in smaller and faster boats which they use to quickly overtake and overwhelm the crew of targeted vessels.