MT Orkim Harmony hijacking

On 11 June 2015, eight Indonesian pirates hijacked the MT Orkim Harmony, a Malaysian tanker, in the South China Sea. The crew and the tanker were freed and recovered on 19 June near the southwest of Phú Quốc in Vietnam with the joint efforts of Royal Malaysian Navy, Royal Malaysian Air Force, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, Royal Australian Air Force, Vietnam Border Guard, Vietnam Coast Guard, Indonesian Navy and Royal Thai Navy.[1][2][5][6][13]

MT Orkim Harmony hijacking
Part of Piracy in the Strait of Malacca and Piracy in Indonesia
Date11–19 June 2015
Lost in the waters of Tanjung Sedili, Kota Tinggi, Johor, Malaysia
9.10°N 103.10°E / 9.10; 103.10

Hijack foiled.[1][2][3][4]

  • Australia spotted the tanker in the Gulf of Thailand.
  • Malaysia recovered the tanker and rescued all 22 crewmembers.
  • Vietnam captured all eight escaping pirates after they were found intruding past the Vietnamese border.




Other aid/standby forces:


Indonesian pirates[7][8]
Commanders and leaders
Abdul Aziz Jaafar
Ahmad Puzi
Adam Steff
Peter Knox
Doãn Bảo Quyết
Nguyễn Quang Đạm
Ngô Ngọc Thu

1,500 strong team, 16 ships and four aircraft
AP-3C Orion surveillance aircraft

4 ships
1 tanker
8 pirates[10]
1 lifeboat
Casualties and losses
none 8 captured[3][11]
1 hostage injured[12]
Approximate location where the tanker was found on 19 June.[note 1]


Before the hijacking of MT Orkim Harmony, another oil tanker named MT Orkim Victory was hijacked by eight Indonesian pirates armed with two hand guns and a parang on 4 June in the South China Sea. The hijackers took the tanker to around 12.2 nautical miles off Aur Island where they pumped the oil (about 770 metric tonnes of diesel) into another tanker before releasing the Orkim Victory. The pirates damaged all communication equipment and robbed the crew members of their personal belongings. All the pirates managed to escape unhurt.[14][15]


Communication with MT Orkim Harmony was lost on 11 June at 8:54 p.m. MST (UTC+08:00) during its way from Malacca to Kuantan Port in the waters of Tanjung Sedili, Kota Tinggi, Johor at 2°8.90′N 104°27.30′E.[7][16] During the hijack, a crew of 22 was on board the tanker including 16 Malaysians, five Indonesians and one Myanmar national.[17] The tanker was loaded with 6,000 metric tonnes of petrol worth around 21 million ringgit (US$5.6 million).[17] All the eight hijackers were armed with pistols and parangs.[7][10]

Searching operations

On 12 June, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) started to search for the tanker in South China Sea in an area of 50,000 square kilometres after it lost contact for 10 hours. Malaysian authorities believed the tanker could have been hijacked and taken to nearby Indonesian islands of Natuna and Anambas.[17] On 17 June, a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion reconnaissance aircraft, flying from RMAF Butterworth in Malaysia's northern Penang state, spotted the missing tanker in the Gulf of Thailand within the Cambodian-Vietnamese maritime border. According to them, the tanker had been repainted from blue to black and renamed Kim Harmon.[1][2][13][18] However, the Royal Cambodian Navy could not confirm the reports and gave a green light for joint operation with Malaysia to track and intercept the tanker in Cambodian waters.[19] The MMEA then contacted the Vietnam Coast Guard (VCG) to inform the news and, upon receiving the information, the VCG deployed two patrol ships to the area. Both the Malaysian and Royal Thai Navy (RTN) were also put on standby. Subsequent information by the VCG reported that the tanker was located at 9°21′N 102°44′E approximately 84 nm southwest of Phú Quốc in Vietnam.[note 1]


In reaction to the Australian report, Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) and MMEA vessels, who were put on standby, were deployed to the area and, on 19 June, the tanker was spotted at 9°10′N 103°10′E.[note 1] The pirates on board the tanker instructed them to retreat for about five nautical miles (9 kilometres) from the tanker, and threatened to kill the crew's families if the tanker's captain leaked the pirates' plan to leave the tanker to the Malaysian authorities.[11][20] The pirates also were "practically begging" the Malaysian authorities to let them go and continue their "journey" until they reached Natuna Island.[21] After some negotiations, all the pirates managed to escape on an Orkim's rescue lifeboat. The RMN and MMEA successfully secured the tanker at 12:50 a.m. MST, with all members of the crew in safe condition except for one person who was injured in his thigh after being shot by the pirates.[note 1][12][22]

Some hours later, eight Indonesians who were suspected as the pirates were seen near Thổ Chu Island and as they were approached by the Vietnam Border Guard (VBDF) and VCG,[22][23] the Indonesians claimed they were from a fishing boat that sank.[4][13] The MMEA then started an investigation on the matter and co-operating with the Vietnamese government through the Attorney-General's office and the Foreign Affairs Ministry to bring all the suspects to Malaysia.[24] The eight were confirmed to be the hijackers after being identified by the injured crew, who were shown photographs of the men,[25] as well with the pirates' confession during interrogation by Vietnamese authorities when they were shown images and information provided by Malaysian authorities.[26] Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi expressed their gratitude to all parties involved in ensuring the safe release of all 22 crew members and the capturing of pirates. They also submitted a request for extradition of the hijackers to Malaysia from Vietnam and Indonesia.[3][27]

Further investigation by Vietnamese authorities concluded that the pirates were not amateurs, but "seasoned criminals" based on how they conducted their motives by switching off Automatic Identification System (AIS) to operate their crime undetected and how they were found with wads of cash on their lifeboat when detained by VBDF and VCG. MMEA's investigation also revealed that there are another five perpetrators (bringing the total to 13) who were involved in the hijacking by using a tugboat to approach the tanker and that all of them had escaped to Batam, Indonesia where the tugboat was found by the Indonesian navy on 21 June.[28][29] The tugboat has been identified as Meulaboah and was found abandoned near Seloko Island off Batam by the Indonesian Navy's Western Fleet Command's (KOARMABAR) Quick Response team. Eight pirates who had been caught earlier in Vietnam has admitted the tugboat was used as their transportation.[30] On 31 August, KOARMABAR arrested the alleged mastermind known as Albert Yohanes who living in an apartment in Grogol Petamburan, West Jakarta, Indonesia.[31] The MMEA has been informed over the arrestment and will send a representative to help Indonesian authority to solving the case.[32]

On 12 September 2016, after almost a year after the incident, the Vietnamese high court finally approved the Malaysian request for extradition, while rejecting a similar request from the Indonesian government.[33] On 27 November, all suspects arrived on Senai International Airport of Johor through a special chartered flight by MMEA from an airport in Hanoi.[34] The Malaysian court sentenced all suspects to 15 and 18 years in prison with all pleading guilty.[35]

See also


  1. The reference is on the external links.


  1. "Australian Air Force trails missing Malaysian tanker found in Cambodian waters". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 18 June 2015. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  2. Farrah Naz Karim; Tasnim Lokman (22 June 2015). "EXCLUSIVE: 'We passed ship the first time'". New Straits Times. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  3. "All On Board MT Orkim Harmony Safe, Pirates Nabbed By Vietnamese Authorities". Bernama. 19 June 2015. Archived from the original on 19 June 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  4. "Delta police nab pirate suspects". Việt Nam News. 22 June 2015. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  5. "MT Orkim Harmony: Indonesian Navy Agrees To Join Hunt For Hijackers". Bernama. 19 June 2015. Archived from the original on 19 June 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  6. Zafira Anwar (19 June 2015). "Indonesia joins hunt for MT Orkim Harmony hijackers". New Straits Times. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  7. "Indonesian hijackers on board MT Orkim Harmoni tanker with pistols and parangs". The Jakarta Post. 18 June 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  8. "MT Orkim Harmony: Hijackers spoke with Indonesian accent - Navy chief". Astro Awani. 19 June 2015. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  9. Hendra Mujiraharja (23 June 2015). "Identitas Pemimpin Perompak Kapal Tanker Terungkap" (in Indonesian). Okezone. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
  10. "Malaysian navy chief: At least 8 perpetrators on board hijacked MT Orkim Harmony tanker armed with pistols and parangs". The Straits Times. 18 June 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  11. Nicholas Cheng (19 June 2015). "Eight suspected tanker hijackers caught in Vietnam". The Star. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  12. "MT Orkim Harmony Injured Cook Reported To Be Stable". Bernama. 19 June 2015. Archived from the original on 19 June 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  13. "Vietnam holds tanker hijackers". Bangkok Post. 19 June 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  14. "Hijacked oil tanker Orkim Harmony released as pirates flee off Malaysia coast". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  15. Nicholas Cheng (14 June 2015). "Najib anxious over disappearance of oil tanker". The Star. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  16. "Orkim Harmony: Navy widens search area for missing oil tanker". Bernama. Astro Awani. 15 June 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  17. Melissa Goh (15 June 2015). "Missing oil tanker probably hijacked by pirates: Malaysian maritime police". Channel News Asia. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  18. Abdul Hakim Rahman (18 June 2015). "Missing MT Orkim Harmony in Cambodian waters, renamed and repainted". Astro Awani. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  19. Jack Laurenson (18 June 2015). "Hijacked Oil Tanker Tracked in Cambodia Waters". Khmer Times. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  20. Muzliza Mustafa (19 June 2015). "Hijackers threatened to go after crew's families, navy chief reveals". The Malaysian Insider. Archived from the original on 19 June 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  21. "Tanker hijackers trying to escape to Indonesia's Natuna Island". The Star. 19 June 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  22. "Cảnh sát VN bắt 8 tên cướp tàu dầu Malaysia ra sao?" (in Vietnamese). 20 June 2015. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  23. "VN bắt giữ 8 tên cướp biển bỏ chạy từ tàu Malaysia" (in Vietnamese). Tuổi Trẻ. 19 June 2015. Archived from the original on 19 June 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  24. Bernard Cheah (19 June 2015). "MMEA to investigate if 8 Indonesians linked to MT Orkim Harmony hijack". The Sun. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  25. Abdul Hakim Rahman (20 June 2015). "Orkim Harmony: Eight detained confirmed as hijackers". Astro Awani. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  26. "Vietnam says 8 Indonesians confess to hijacking oil tanker". Yahoo! News. Associated Press. 22 June 2015. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  27. "Orkim Harmony: Malaysia to request extradition of suspected hijackers". Bernama. Astro Awani. 20 June 2015. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  28. "13 people involved in hijacking of Malaysian oil tanker Orkim Harmony, 5 still at large". The Straits Times. 22 June 2015. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  29. Joseph Kaos Jr (23 June 2015). "Hijackers' tugboat found". The Star/Asia News Network. AsiaOne. Archived from the original on 24 June 2015. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
  30. Crystal Chan (6 July 2015). "Tug in Orkim Harmony hijacking identified". IHS Maritime 360. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  31. Titus Zheng (1 September 2015). "Indonesian Navy arrests tanker hijacking suspect". IHS Maritime 360. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
  32. "MMEA to meet Indonesian authority on tanker hijacker". Bernama. The Borneo Post. 2 September 2015. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
  33. "Vietnam to Extradite 8 Indonesian Suspects to Malaysia". The Associated Press. ABC News. 12 September 2016. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  34. Rizalman Hammim (27 November 2016). "MT Orkim Harmony suspects arrive in Malaysia, to be charged today". New Straits Times. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  35. "Eight Indonesians jailed for tanker hijack in Malaysia". Agence France-Presse. The Citizen. 28 November 2016. Retrieved 28 November 2016.

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