Regional piracy watchdog ReCAAP has confirmed another fuel oil heist in the Malacca Strait over the weekend.
ReCAAP says it was alerted Friday by the owners of the Singapore-registered product tanker Joaquim that contact had been lost with the vessel. The vessel’s last known position was reported to be approximately 29 nautical miles north of Pulau Rupat in the Malacca Strait at 1350 hours August 8th. The ship was carrying 3,500 metric tons of fuel oil.
After launching a search, the vessel was located by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency early August 9th approximately 14.1 nautical miles off Tanjung Kling. Initial reports revealed that about 3,000 metric tons of fuel oil had been siphoned from the vessel and power to the generator was cut off. All crew was safe excepted for the master and an engineer, who were injured after being struck in the face by the pirates.
ReCAAP notes that this is the third incident report in Malacca Strait this year. The two previous incidents, both similar in nature, occurred May 2nd and February 13th.
The ReCAAP ISC urges the authorities to step up surveillance and patrols in the strait and ship masters to exercise enhanced vigilance while underway in the vicinity,” ReCAAP said in a statement about the incident. “Working closely with the regional authorities and relevant stakeholders, including the INTERPOL, the ReCAAP ISC believes that an oil smuggling syndicate is active in the area, targeting vessels carrying ship fuel/oil with the objective of hijacking the vessel during hours of darkness to bring her further away from shore to siphon off the fuel cargo onboard.”