HIJACKED TANKER IS ARRESTED NEAR BANGKOK
The hijacked tanker “Han Wei” has been found on May 14 after a hunt led by the International Maritime Bureau of the International Chamber of Commerce.
Thai marine police boarded the hijacked Taiwanese-owned tanker, which had been renamed the “Phaeton” by pirates. The vessel was found anchored off Thailand’s eastern port of Si Ra Cha, some 80 kilometers from Bangkok.
The “Han Wei” had disappeared two days after leaving Singapore on March 15 , bound for Yangon with 1,950 metric tons of gas oil.
The crew of 11 Indonesians and two Taiwanese managed to make landfall on the Sumatran coast after being set adrift by the hijackers.
The Belize-registered 2,890-ton-deadweight ship had been repainted yellow and blue from its original black and white. A replacement crew engaged by the hijackers fled before the marine police boarded the ship. The hijackers unloaded most of the cargo at an unknown destination.
Through its extensive network, the International Maritime Bureau uncovered indications that the ship had been deviated to Thai waters following its disappearance, the International Chamber of Commerce said. Further investigations revealed the exact position of the vessel, and the Royal Thai Navy was informed.
The International Chamber of Commerce said that the Thai authorities swiftly responded to its request for help. The Royal Thai Marine Police, supported by a naval helicopter, quickly boarded the stolen ship..
“Hijacking of vessels continues to be a major problem and only actions such as these will help to bring this crime under control,” said Pottengal Mukundan, director of the International Maritime Bureau.
The hunt for the “Han Wei” was coordinated by the bureau’s piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur.
Piracy continues to be a serious threat to shipping. Recent International Maritime Bureau figures show 87 attacks were reported in the first quarter of 2002, up from 68 for the same period in 2001. So far this year the African continent has accounted for 33 piracy incidents and Southeast Asia for 32, with 22 occurring in Indonesia alone.
The International Maritime Bureau reported seven cases of hijackings in the first quarter of this year, up from just one in the same period last year. Of the seven cases, two occurred in Indonesia and one in each of the Malacca Straits, Thailand, Taiwan, the United States and Somalia.