A Thailand-registered tanker was boarded by eight armed men who siphoned its fuel and planted an improvised explosive device (IED) on the tanker’s bridge while it was underway in the Strait of Malacca off Port Klang, Malaysia.
The 3,254 dwt vessel, Lapin, was loaded with 2,000 tonnes of bunker oil and 5 tonnes of diesel oil before departing from Singapore to Thailand with 15 crew members on board.
The tanker was boarded by eight men armed with guns and knives at approximately 40 nautical miles west-northwest of Port Klang (latitude 03°11’N, longitude 100°43’E) at 19:55 h local time on 13 February. IHS Maritime AISLive had observed that the tanker had slowed down from nominal speed: from 7-8 knots to 4-5 knots from that time onwards.
Later, the armed men brought a larger vessel alongside Lapin and siphoned off both the bunker oil and diesel oil. After siphoning its fuel, the armed robbers planted an IED at the tanker’s flying bridge area and left with the the stolen fuels.
According to Lapin’s master, the device looked like a TNT explosive and was held together by electrical wires. The ship master brought the tanker into Thai waters and anchored it between Tarutao and Lipe islands off Satun Province while he contacted Thai marine police for assistance at 09:20 h local time on 15 February.
The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) instructed the vessel to anchor roughly 11 km from Pak Bara deepsea port in Satun, and sent its explosive ordnance disposal team to inspect the IED. Rear Admiral Somchai Na Bangchang, chief of staff of the RTN’s Third Naval Area Command, said that all 15 crew members were unharmed, but the IED remained on board.