‘MT Bunga Laurel’ resumes trip while navy holds pirates

PETALING JAYA: After a day of high sea drama, the rescued Malaysian chemical tanker MT Bunga Laurel, with its load of RM30mil worth of lubricating oil and ethylene dichloride, is back on sail to Singapore with all crew members resuming their duties.

The Malaysian International Shipping Corporation (MISC) confirmed this and thanked the armed forces’ Combined Special Forces Task Group (a joint special action force comprising navy, army and airforce commandos) for their swift action.

“Their bravery and diligence in arresting the piracy threat has ensured the safety of MT Bunga Laurel and its crew,” MISC said in a statement yesterday.

The captured pirates have been held under the custody of the navy at an unspecified location pending further action.

Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) fleet operations commander Vice-Admiral Datuk Ahmad Kamarul–zaman Ahmad Badaruddin said despite the gunfire during the rescue mission, codenamed Operation Fajar, the ship sustained minimal damage and had no problem in resuming operations.

He said the pirates were given first aid, food and time for their prayers aboard the ship.

Various international bodies have since commended the RMN for its feat, Ahmad Kamarulzaman said.

They include the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Ope–rations, International Maritime Bureau, Nato and European Union task forces as well as the Com–bined Maritime Forces operating in the region.

“The operation took a highly innovative approach with quick and strategic responses from the navy chief Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar to our men on the field and close cooperation with MISC that saw to the success of the mission with no bloodshed,” he said.

Meanwhile, the defence ministry has expressed its readiness to provide another naval ship to protect Malaysian merchant ships from the dreaded Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden.

“We can add another ship, as long as the MISC agrees to bear its operating costs,” minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said.

The success (of the rescue operation), he said, demonstrated the RMN’s ability to protect merchant ships plying the pirate-ravaged gulf.

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