Hijacked Tanker Recovered Off Malaysia, Suspected Pirates Captured

The Malaysian-flagged MT Sun Birdie. File photo (c) MarineTraffic.com/V. Tonic
The Malaysian-flagged MT Sun Birdie. File photo (c) MarineTraffic.com/V. Tonic

The Malaysian government has recovered a missing tanker and captured nine suspected pirates just one day after the ship went missing in the waters near Singapore.

The ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre reports that the MT Sun Birdie was successfully recovered by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency on Thursday (Jan. 29) approximately 18 nautical miles northeast of Tanjung Penawar. Onboard were the ship’s 11 crewmembers, plus seven suspected pirates who were all captured. Another two suspected pirates jumped overboard and were eventually picked up by a passing ship and turned over to the MMEA.

The MT Sun Birdie was laden with 700 metric tons of Marine Fuel Oil when it lost contact with its owners late on January 28th and was feared hijacked. Its last known position was approximately 1 nautical mile south of Tanjung Ayam, Malaysia. The owner contacted the MMEA for assistance by 11 a.m. Thursday morning, which then coordinated a search for the vessel with help from the ReCAAP ISC, a government-to-government agreement aimed at combating piracy in the region.

MT Sun Birdie Map

In a statement announcing the recovery of the vessel, ReCAAP commented: “The ReCAAP ISC commends the MMEA for displaying utmost agility and efficiency in recovering the tanker and arresting the perpetrators onboard. From the time the incident was reported to MMEA till the vessel was found and perpetrators arrested, all within 12 hours on the same day demonstrated the determination and commitment of the enforcement agency in clamping down illegal maritime activities in this region.

“It is pertinent to highlight the quick recovery of the lost vessel and arrest of the perpetrators onboard. Timely reporting of the incident by the owner to MMEA (nearest coastal State agency), coupled with MMEA’s immediate responses had contributed towards the arrest of the perpetrators and safeguarding the safety of the crew.”