Malaysian authorities have foiled a group of pirates as they tried to sell bunker fuel from a hijacked Singaporean tanker.
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) said it raided a vessel named as Scorpio on Friday off Tanjung Piai.
Six men were syphoning fuel from the ship and loading it onto the 1,300-dwt Sea Jade (built 1985).
MMEA’s southern region chief Adon Shalan said they spotted unusual ship-to-ship activity between the two vessels.
As a patrol boat approached, six masked men were seen fleeing in a wooden boat installed with a high-powered engine, which was next to Scorpio.
Investigations on the Scorpio indicated that the vessel had been hijacked, and all 12 crew members – 10 Indonesians, a Chinese and a Sri Lankan – had their hands tied.
Shalan said: “Three of them sustained injuries after they were attacked by the pirates, who also took their cash and belongings, such as laptops and handphones.
“The pirates left six machetes onboard. They appeared to have ransacked the whole vessel. Investigation showed that one of the pirates was armed with a pistol and that they had hijacked the vessel at midnight on Thursday.”
The pirates impersonated the crew in a bid to sell off the fuel at below-market prices.
The 12 crew on Sea Jade were detained for questioning.
The only tanker listed under the name Scorpio is Singapore operator Yuantai Fuel Trading’s 3,300-dwt vessel built in 1979.
Sea Jade is listed as sold to undisclosed interests on in February.