A 10,734 GRT chemical tanker, hijacked by pirates shortly after the cargo was loaded and the voyage commenced has been recovered as a result of co-ordinated actions by law enforcement agencies in South East Asia, reported the ICC's International Maritime Bureau (IMB)
The Dominican Republic flagged tanker, the MT STEADFAST, loaded a cargo of 16,585 mts of vegetable oil at the Indonesian port of Palembang bound for China. The 1983 built ship left the berth at Palembang after loading a cargo of vegetable oil on 18 December 2005. The last message received by the owners from the vessel was on 19 December. Inability to contact the vessel suggested that the vessel may have been hijacked.
The IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) immediately sent out alerts to all ships and authorities in the Region. Intelligence received by the owners and the PRC suggested that the vessel was headed towards Vietnam or Kampuchea.
The PRC worked closely with the Vietnamese, Kampuchean, Singapore authorities and the Indonesian Navy providing them with timely information to seize the vessel if it entered territorial waters.
The vessel turned back towards Indonesia and the pirates finally left the vessel on 24 December 2005 in Indonesian waters.
The Master brought the vessel safely back to Singapore arriving there at 1330 hours on 24 December. The Singapore authorities are investigating.
The 25 crew, cargo and vessel are safe.
This was the first case this year where a tanker of this size was hijacked, in an attempt to steal the vessel and the cargo. Capt. Pottengal Mukundan, Director of the IMB, commented that “it was vital the authorities deal with this hijacking effectively to deter further attacks of this kind. We congratulate the law enforcement agencies, particularly the Indonesian Navy for their prompt and positive support. We believe it was the actions taken by them which dissuaded the pirates from proceeding with the illegal discharge of the cargo.”
The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) collates information on piracy attacks from around the world and provides shipmasters with daily intelligence on high risk areas.