A Singapore-registered oil tanker MT Joaquim, which was reported missing in the Malacca Strait off Malaysia on Saturday, has been found near Indonesia’s Pulau Rupat with 3,500 metric tons of marine fuel missing, according to Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).
The vessel was on its way to Langkawi, Malaysia, from Tanjung Pinang, Indonesia, when it went off the radar on Saturday evening.
MMEA deployed fifteen ships, nine boats and four aircraft to the search area in the Malacca Strait. MMEA deputy director-general (operations), Datuk Ahmad Puzi Ab Kahar, said the oil cargo was worth about $700,000.
According to the vessel’s ship management company, RTBS Consultants Pte, there were nine crew members onboard at the time of the incident. All crew members, including a Singaporean and eight Indonesians, are safe.
Ahmad Puzi believes a “phantom ship” was involved in the incident and there was also a possibility that an “insider” was involved as the tanker had been heading north before changing course to a southern direction.
Singapore’s MPA is working with the Malaysian authorities to ensure the safety of the crew members and vessel. An injured crew member was reportedly airlifted to Alor Gajah Hospital in Malacca, Malaysia, for treatment. Meanwhile, the vessel’s ship management company is making arrangements to bring the tanker back to Singapore for investigations.