Putra Jaya: The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has confirmed that pirates seized about 700,000 litres of diesel worth RM1.4 million from an oil tanker, ‘MT Ai Maru’ on Saturday night, about 31 nautical miles off Timur Tanjung Sedili, Johor.
MMEA Deputy Director-General (Operations), Datuk Mohd Puzi Ab Kahar, said the agency was investigating whether it was an “inside job”.
An MMEA ship, ‘KM Manjung’ escorted the tanker towards Pegerang waters, while the 13 Thai crew and Indonesian captain would be further questioned to facilitate investigations, he told a media conference at his office here Sunday.
In the 8pm heist, believed to have been carried out by a group of seven armed pirates in a speedboat, the tanker which was registered in Honduras was on its way to Cambodia from Singapore.
The International Maritime Bureau received information on the incident about an hour later and alerted the MMEA and Royal Malaysian Navy, which then dispatched a ship, ‘KD Terengganu’.
Mohd Puzi said the tanker was located at 3.20am Sunday and an inspection found that the crew and captain were unharmed.
“According to the crew, the pirates pumped out the fuel in three hours into another ship which they could not identify.
“The captain claimed the crew were confined in a room while he was ordered by the pirates who were armed with machetes and pistols to steer the ship. He could not ascertain the nationality of the culprits who later fled towards the nearby islands such as Pulau Andalas in Indonesia or Pulau Aur,” he said.
Mohd Puzi said the investigations would focus on the time taken to pump the fuel out and into the pirate ship, and the authenticity of the statements given by the crew and captain.
Meanwhile, he said prior to Saturday night’s incident, there had been similar piracies involving ships allegedly belonging to the same company, the latest on April 22, off Port Klang.