JOHOR BARU: New information about an oil tanker purportedly hijacked to Batam, Indonesia, showed that the ship owner had not paid a bond to Malaysian authorities to allow the ship to sail.
Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) (Southern Region) Rear Admiral Adon Shalan said bond payments are necessary to ensure that ships be held accountable for incidents that occur in Malaysian waters.
“If there are no incidents such as oil spills, the bond will be returned to the shipping company," he said.
Adon said in the latest “hijacking” case of MT Vier Harmoni, which was carrying 900,000 litres of diesel worth RM1.57mil, the ship could have been “deliberately taken to international waters due to a commercial dispute.”
He said a police report had been lodged in Kuantan over the matter.
Adon explained that the vessel, which left Kuantan port, was travelling to Indonesia.
“MMEA immediately deployed assets, including a helicopter, to scour the eastern waters off Johor to locate the vessel after the report was lodged today.
“However, MMEA headquarters called off the operation after we manage to find the vessel near Batam through the help of our Indonesian counterparts," Adon told The Star on Wednesday.
He said initial investigations showed that there could be some financial dispute within the company leading to the tanker’s “disappearance.”
"We tried to contact the ship but it went unanswered while we believe the ship's captain might have turned off its tracking system as we could not trace it on our radar," he said.
He said initial checks showed that the company had yet to make bond payments for the ship to embark on its journey.
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