Oil tanker rescued by Indonesia navy from hijacking reaches Surabaya

The MV Hai Soon 12.
The MV Hai Soon 12. PHOTO: TNI-AL

JAKARTA - An oil-tanker rescued by the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL) from an attempted hijacking on Saturday (May 7) has anchored in the waters off the port city of Surabaya.

All 21 people onboard the MV Hai Soon 12, comprising 20 crew members and one Indonesian passenger, are all accounted for, Navy spokesman Colonel Suradi Agung Slamet told The Straits Times on Tuesday (May 10).

"The navy chased the boat for eight hours, secured it, and detained nine suspects," he said. "They did not put up any protest."

Initial reports had indicated that the vessel was registered in Singapore but maritime records have since confirmed that the MV Hai Soon 12 is flagged under the Cook Islands.

The passenger and crew made up of six men from Myanmar, two from South Korea, 11 from China and one from Singapore, were "safe and unharmed", said Col. Suradi.

The MV Hai Soon12 was travelling from Singapore to Dumai city, on the island of Sumatra, when it disappeared from radar in the Karimata Strait, he added. The Karimata Strait is a wide waterway between the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo.

The vessel later resurfaced on the Automatic Identification System (AIS), which tracks the positions of ships, and was located some distance away in the waters of Tanjung Puting in South Kalimantan under the name "KM Aiso".

"The suspects had switched off the AIS so earlier so the boat lost contact with Singapore, they then attempted to steal oil," said Col Suradi.

Based on preliminary investigations, the suspects, who are all Indonesians, were planning to move some 200 kilolitres of oil from the MV Hai Soon 12 to another boat from Malaysia. 

Last week, officials from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines met in Yogyakarta and agreed to launch coordinated patrols and set up crisis centres in their respective countries to better respond to emergencies in piracy-prone areas in the Sulu and Sulawesi seas.

The meeting was called after a string of kidnappings in the waters off the southern Philippines, near where the maritime borders of the three countries meet.

Fourteen Indonesian and four Malaysian seamen were abducted from their boats by Abu Sayyaf militants in three separate incidents in recent weeks.

Ten Indonesians seized at the end of March were released on May 1 and have since returned home.

More than 100,000 vessels sailed through the territorial waters off the Sulu Archipelago, in southern Philippines, carrying 55 million tonnes of cargo and some 18 million passengers last year, according to the Indonesian Foreign Ministry.

Investigations into Saturday's incident are still ongoing, said Indonesian authorities.