Armed robbers hijacked Malaysia-flagged tanker Oriental Glory and siphoned off its fuel off Bruit Island, East Malaysia, on 15 May.
The incident marked the seventh fuel siphoning case reported since January 2015, according to the Singapore-based anti-piracy watchdog ReCAAP Information Service Centre (ReCAAP ISC).
Oriental Glory, 2,954 dwt, was en route to Tanjung Manis from Labuan when it was surrounded by six fishing vessels 60 nm northwest of Bruit Island, Malaysia at 6:00 h local time on 15 May.
Around 30 men boarded the 1993-bulit tanker and brought it to another location, approximately 188 nm northwest of Bruit Island, for siphoning operation.
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The perpetrators fled the scene after siphoning off around 2,500 tonnes of ship fuel from the vessel. All crew members on board Oriental Glory are safe and taken to Tanjung Manis to aid in investigations into the incident.
In a previous incident on 15 July 2014, 25 men armed with pistols and machetes boarded Oriental Glory at approximately 44.5 nm northeast of Pulau Bintan, Indonesia.
The men siphoned off around 1,600 million tonnes of marine gasoil from Oriental Glory and stole MYR15,000 (USD4,200), as well as the crew’s personal belongings. They fled the scene the next day after damaging the vessel’s communication equipment, main engines, and anchor windlass.
In a separate incident on 12 November 2014, the master of Oriental Glory foiled a boarding attempt after he had detected the presence of a suspicious vessel. According ReCAAP ISC, the ship master raised the alarm, mustered the crew, shone the search light at the boat, and carried out evasive manoeuvring actions.
Meanwhile, ReCAAP ISC has released its monthly incident report for April 2015, recording a total of 17 incidents, up 13.3% or 2 additional cases as compared with April 2014. Thirteen of these cases or 76% were petty theft, most of which occurred on board vessels while under way in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS).
As for the remaining cases, one was a Category 1 (very severe) case involving siphoning of ship fuel, one was a Category 2 (moderately significant) case involving armed robbery incident, one was a Category 3 case, while the other was an attempted case.
ReCAAP ISC has advised ship masters and crew to deploy extra security measures whenever possible and report any suspicious vessels to the nearest coastal states. The anti-piracy watchdog also urged masters to raise alarm and muster the crew as an effective way of warding off the perpetrators in ship-boarding attempts.