Eight armed pirates who hijacked a Malaysian-flagged tanker have fled the vessel using its rescue boat, said Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) chief Admiral Abdul Aziz Jaafar.
In a Twitter post on 19 June, Adm Aziz said the eight men, believed to be Indonesians, fled on the rescue boat at about 2030 h local time on 18 June.
The 2009-built, 7,301 dwt Orkim Harmony ceased its hourly position update to its operator Orkim Ship Management at 2054 h local time on 11 June. Its last reported position was about 17 n miles southwest off Pulau Aur.
Subsequent attempts to contact the vessel on all available communications were unsuccessful. Orkim Harmony was ferrying 6,000 tonnes of ULG95 (petrol) from Melaka to Kuantan, Malaysia, with a crew comprising Indonesian, Malaysian, and Myanmar nationals.
Adm Aziz said the RMN was escorting Orkim Harmony to Kuantan, where it was expected to arrive at 0200 h local time on 20 June.
He added that the RMN had deployed three ships and two helicopters to search for the pirates.
Adm Aziz said that Orkim Harmony’s 22 crew members were all safe, although the vessel’s Indonesian chef was shot in the thigh on 11 June, soon after the tanker was hijacked.
The pursuit of the pirates comes a day after Adm Aziz said the navy was in talks with the hijackers -who were armed with pistols and machetes – for the release of Orkim Harmony and its crew.
The vessel, whose IMO number was covered with black paint, had been renamed ‘Kim Harmon’.