Vietnam coast guards arrest eight hijackers of Malaysian tanker

Monday, 2015-06-22 11:41:58
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Vietnamese coast guards questioning one of the eight suspected hijackers of Malaysian oil tanker Orkim Harmony (Photo: VOV)
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NDO – Vietnamese coast guards in co-ordination with the Border Guard Station of Tho Chu Island, Phu Quoc district, Kien Giang province on June 19 arrested eight suspected hijackers of Malaysian oil tanker Orkim Harmony, which was forcefully taken on June 11 while carrying approximately 6,000 tonnes of petrol.

The Vietnam Coast Guard High Command (VCG) announced on June 21 that at 4pm on June 20, the ringleader of the arrested suspects confessed that their boat approached the tanker from the cockpit.

Two of the suspects were armed with pistols and the others armed with knives; the group restrained the sailors working on the tanker. Their boat then pulled the tanker towards Malaysia to seek a buyer for the oil.

Vietnamese coast guards were first informed of the hijacking on June 13 by the Malaysian Maritime Rescue Co-ordination and Enforcement Centre.

The VCG directed units and ships operating at sea to follow the situation.

By 5 pm on June 17, the VCG High Command was notified about the journey of the ship, which was heading toward southwestern Vietnamese waters. The VCG sent vessels CSB 2002 and CSB 2004 to conduct a search.

By 6 pm on June 18, Malaysian authorities updated the VCG High Command on June 18 that the ship was in an area bordering Vietnamese waters, about 23 nautical miles southwest of Tho Chu Island.

At 8 am the following day, Malaysian authorities informed the VCG that the pirates had left the tanker using one of its lifeboats. Before leaving, they used black paint to cover the number of the lifeboat in order to make their escape.

About 90 minutes later, the Border Guard Station of Tho Chu Island reported to the VCG that a rescue boat carrying eight foreigners, suspected to be the hijackers, had landed on the island.
The Maritime Police then sent officers and interpreters from CSB 2002 and CSB 2004 to Tho Chu Island to question the suspects.

Later it was reported that the hijackers had shot and injured one of the sailors and injured 11 others on the Harmony. They also stole money and personal property of the crew members before leaving the tanker.

Landing on Tho Chu Island, they first claimed to the Tho Chu island border guard that they were from a fishing boat that sank.

While interrogating the suspects, the VCG sent photos of the lifeboat and the eight suspects to the Malaysian coast guard for verification. The Malaysian side then confirmed that the lifeboat belonged to the Harmony and the eight suspects were directly responsible for hijacking the tanker.