Malaysian authorities are today searching for a further five suspected robbers believed to have been involved in the hijacking of tanker Orkim Harmony.
The 2009-built, 7,301 dwt Orkim Harmony, which was carrying 6,000 tonnes of unleaded petrol from Malacca to Kuantan with 22 crew members, was hijacked on 11 June.
The ship ceased its hourly position update to its operator Orkim Ship Management at 20:54 h local time on 11 June.
Its last known position was at 02° 08.90′ N104° 27.30′ E, about 17 n miles southwest of Pulau Aur.
On 17 June, the Vietnam Coast Guard (VCG) informed Singapore-based piracy reporting centre ReCAAP ISC that they had been notified by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) that an Australian patrol aircraft had localised a vessel at 09° 21′ N 102° 44′ E, approximately 84 n miles southwest of Phu Quoc in the Gulf of Thailand at around 14:46 h local time.
The vessel, renamed as Kim Harmon, matched the description of Orkim Harmony.
Related news: Updated: Hijacked tanker suspects arrested
ReCAAP ISC said, “Unconfirmed reports indicate that the vessel was loitering in the area, waiting for another vessel to transfer the cargo Kim Harmon was carrying.
The vessel’s IMO number was also covered with black paint and its AIS was turned off to avoid detection.
The Malaysian Navy’s patrol vessel KD Terengganu entered into negotiations with the robbers and spoke to Orkim Harmony’s captain. During negotiations, naval officers persuaded the robbers to surrender and assured them that they would not be harmed.
Eight of the robbers then fled on Orkim Harmony’s lifeboat and were arrested by Vietnamese authorities in Tho Chu Island.
Vietnamese authorities said that after questioning, the eight suspects revealed that after getting hold of the Orkim Harmony’s cargo, five other accomplices brought it to Malaysia to find a buyer.
Malaysian navy chief Abdul Aziz said in a Twitter post at 10:43 h local time on 19 June that Orkim Harmony was escorted to Kuantan by the Malaysian Navy and it arrived in Kuantan at 02:00 h local time on 20 June. Apart from an Indonesian chef who was shot in the thigh, the other crew members are safe.