Friday, 19 June 2015

Malaysian Navy recaptures hijacked oil tanker.

The Royal Malaysian Navy has recaptured an oil taker which was hijacked by pirates last week. The Malaysian registered MT Orkim Harmony, which has a crew of 22 and which was carrying 6000 tonnes of petroleum, was attacked on Thursday 11 June 2015 about 56 km of the port of Johor in southern Peninsula Malaysia. One of the crew members, reported to be a cook, sustained a gunshot would to the leg during the incident. After an extensive search the Malaysian Navy made contact with the ship in Vietnamese waters, where it had been re-painted and its name changed to 'Kim Harmon'. The Malaysian Navy then entered into negotiations with the hijackers, seeking to diffuse the situation without causing alarm, which could potentially have resulted in harm to the hostages. The pirates reportedly left the ship in a rescue boat at about 8.00 pm local time on Thursday 18 June, enabling the vessel to be recaptured without further bloodshed, and it is now being towed towards the port of  Kuantan in Pahang State where it is expected to make landfall on Saturday 19 June. The escaping pirates are being tracked by planes belonging to the Malaysian Navy.

An aerial photograph of the Orkim Harmony before its recapture. Malaysian Navy/Twitter.

A report issued by the International Maritime Bureau in April 2015 warned that 54% of the world's piracy takes place in Southeast Asian waters, with on average one small tanker or cargo ship being taken every week. This represents a 10% rise since the same time in 2014, a setback which comes after several years of falling recorded incidents. A sister ship of the Orkim Harmony, the MT Orkim Victory, was hijacked on 4 June 2015, and 770 tonnes of diesel siphoned off before it was released. However the petrol cargo of the Orkim Victory may have proved harder to handle, as petrol has a much lower flash point (ignites explosively at a much lower temperature) and needs specialist equipment to unload safely from tankers.

See also...

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