Kuala Lumpur: The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has fired a broadside at Orkim Ship Management for taking 10 hours to report the loss of communication with missing product tanker MT Orkim Harmony (7,000dwt, built 2009).
The Malay Mail reports that Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, the minister overseeing MMEA, said that the delay will only complicate rescue operations and jeopardise the safety of the 22 crew members onboard.
Speaking to Splash, Orkim Ship Management denies the accusation as while communication was lost the company still had AIS tracking of the vessel. “The vessel could have been not communicating for a number of reasons, and we have to be mindful of safety with the vessel in a high traffic area,” said Captain Chea, fleet GM at Orkim.
“When AIS tracking stopped and we had not received routine reports, we reported to MMEA immediately,” he continued.
Orkim Harmony stopped communications Thursday night with its last known position 17 nautical miles southwest of Pulau Aur in Malaysian waters.
In a sign of Malaysia’s determination to find the vessel, the country’s prime minister Najib Razak has weighed in promising the resources to locate it. He stated: “I am distressed by the news of a missing Malaysian-owned tanker. I pray for the safety of the 22-strong crew, 16 of whom are Malaysians. My thoughts are with their families. The government will deploy our resources to locate it.”
The vessel is owned by Magna Meridian and managed by Orkim Ship Management, who had another vessel, Orkim Victory, taken by pirates earlier this month in the same area.