Seafarers Set Adrift in Liferafts After Hijack
Fourteen Indonesian seafarers were found adrift in life rafts after their tanker was hijacked by pirates. The pirates left the crew in the life rafts and sailed off in the tanker. The crew were physically unharmed. The seafarers were found on 31st January near Indonesia’s Lembeh Island due south of the Philippines.
The Indonesian-flagged chemical tanker “Rehobot” is still missing.
The tanker was boarded by pirates near Lembeh Island, North Sulawesi in Indonesia, at 2330hrs local time on 28 January. Eight masked pirates armed with long knives boarded the vessel from a small wooden motorboat and took over the “Rehobot”. The tanker was carrying a cargo of 1,100 tonnes of diesel fuel at the time.
It is the second small tanker to be hijacked in South East Asia waters in less than a week. It follows the hijacking of the Malaysian registered chemical tanker “Sun Birdie” in Malaysian waters on 28th January 2015.
The “Sun Birdie” went missing off Malaysia with 11 seafarers on board, eight Myanmar nationals and three Indonesians. It had a cargo of 700 tonnes of marine fuel oil. It has since been recovered and the hijackers detained.
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency recovered the “Sun Birdie” on 29 January north-east of Tanjung Penawar. “The MMEA detained the ship’s crew and seven perpetrators found onboard Sun Birdie. The MMEA brought the vessel to Penggerang for further investigation. Another two perpetrators jumped overboard and fled,” ReCAAP said. The two, who jumped overboard were later picked up by a passing vessel the “Challenger Premier”.
There was a sharp rise in the number of hijackings of small tankers in South East Asian waters in 2014, with the hijackers siphoning off the cargo. The hijackings are believed to involved organised criminal syndicates often with inside knowledge on vessel movements and cargo.