Missing Tanker Could Have Been Modified In Less Than 12 Hours, Making It Untraceable

The mysterious whereabouts of Malaysian oil tanker, MT Orkim Harmony, reported to be missing since last Thursday, could possibly be an 'inside' job, leading to a hostile takeover of the ship and subsequent hijack by pirates, says Satumarin Sdn Bhd Special Projects Director, Captain Ahmad Imran Mohd Azmi.

According to him, the nearest location which is the easiest to hide the tanker away off the radar would be the small islands around Indonesia.

“There’s a chance that the disappearance was carried out by an accomplice who had access to inside information, conspiring with the pirates by exposing the location and position of the tanker.

“Personally, I also believe that the accomplice is not one of us (Malaysian) since the incident happened between the Singapore and Indonesia borders which is a hotspot for pirate activities,” he told Malaysian Digest, today.

Captain Imran also didn’t deny the possibility that the tanker had been taken over by hostile forces and hijacked without the crews or officers on duty being aware of it.

He further explains that the tanker which was carrying about 6,000 metric tonnes litres or 50,000 barrels of RON95 gasoline may have been modified by pirates in less than 12 hours.

“Between the time when the tanker went off the radar around 8.50pm on 11 June and the official report being lodged at 6.30am on 12 June, the tanker may have been taken to one of the Indonesian island for modification in paint works and have its oil cargo siphoned.

“If that happens, it will be difficult for the authority to detect the tanker should it set sail again,” said the captain, who has 14 years of sailing experience with an LNG tankers owned by Petronas and MISC.

Additionally, he says that there’s also the possibility that communication tools onboard including satellite and AIS detector may have been shut down to make it harder for the authorities to locate the tanker’s whereabouts.

When asked about the procedure to guarantee the safety of a ship from being hijacked by pirates, Captain Imran replies:

“Normally most shipping companies have anti-piracy precautions which must be adhered to if a tanker is taking a route with high piracy risk.

“Among the procedures that crew members must do include locking all doors, ensuring the firehose at the stern, port and starboard of the ship are fully functional in case of any suspicious ships approaching.

“The ship’s radar system should also be monitored to detect the presence of any suspicious ship.”

Previously, the tanker, which was en route to Kuantan port from Melaka, was cut off from communication at 8.50pm last Thursday.

Until now, search operations has covered an area of 20,000 km square feet and is reaching the borders of Malaysian waters and its neighbours.

Article by Malaysian Digest

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