KUANTAN: The Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) and Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) rescued a tanker with a RM12 million oil and gas cargo, from a group of armed pirates in the South China Sea, Friday night.
RMN Commander of Naval Region 1, First Admiral Datuk Mohamad Roslan Mohamad Ramli said the 19 crew oil tanker MT Nautica Johor Bahru was rescued at 9.10pm after they were given clearance by Indonesia’s Sea Security Coordinating Board to pursue the vessel into Indonesian waters.
He said the ship was earlier hijacked in the Strait of Singapore, near Batu Puteh about 5.30am on Thursday en route from Melaka to Sibu, Sarawak.
“The shipping company suspected something amiss after they failed to make contact with the vessel and lodged a report with MMEA at 9.20am Friday,” he said at a press conference here, yesterday.
Also present was East Region Maritime enforcement chief First Admiral Nasir Adam.
Mohamad Roslan said the agency’s Dauphin M7 002 aircraft spotted the ship at 85 nautical miles east of Pekan, Pahang about 3.20pm yesterday heading towards the Anambas Islands in Indonesia.
Three RMN ships, KD Jebat, KD Lekiu and KD Kelantan which were part of a naval exercise off the coast of Tioman Island, located 60 nautical miles south of the hijacked ship, were ordered to mount a rescue operation, he said.
The rescue ships finally caught up with MT Nautica about 8 Friday night near Jemaja Island, Indonesia and ordered it to halt, said Mohamad Roslan.
The pirates, believed to be a group of 10 foreigners, slowed the vessel down and blacked out the ship before escaping in a speed boat, he said. MT Nautica captain Tang Ah Bay then radioed one of the rescue ships saying the pirates had left the ship and asked to be escorted to Kuantan.
Mohamad Roslan said there were no casualties in the incident and the pirates who were armed with a pistol and machete made off with the crew’s cash, mobile phones and laptops. — Bernama