The Indonesian navy said it has identified a tug used to hijack Malaysian-flagged tanker Orkim Harmony in June 2015.
The tug was identified as Meulaboh, and was found abandoned near Pulau Seloko off Batam around 10:00 h by the Indonesian Navy’s Western Fleet Command’s (KOARMABAR) Quick Response team.
This was revealed by KOARMABAR commander AR Taufiq in a press conference on 30 June.
While eight of the 13 armed robbers who carried out the 11 June hijacking have been arrested, the other five remain at large.
Taufiq said, “We’re pursuing the pirates. The eight pirates caught in Vietnam have admitted that Meulaboh was used as a means of transport.”
Orkim Harmony, carrying 6,000 tonnes of unleaded petrol, went missing on 11 June en route from Malacca to Kuantan.
On 17 June, the Vietnam Coast Guard, informed Singapore-based piracy reporting centre ReCAAP ISC that they had been notified by Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, that an Australian patrol aircraft had localised a vessel at 09° 21′ N 102° 44′ E, approximately 84 nm southwest of Phu Quoc in the Gulf of Thailand around 14:46 h local time.
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The vessel renamed ‘Kim Harmon’ matched the description of Orkim Harmony.
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 the captain of Orkim Harmony. During the negotiations, the naval officers persuaded the robbers to surrender and that they would not be harmed.
Eight of the robbers then fled on Orkim Harmony’s life boat 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 Orkim Harmony’s cargo, their five other accomplices, who remain at large, brought it to Malaysia to find a buyer.