Maritime authorities seek missing tanker | News | DW | 17.08.2016
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Maritime authorities seek missing tanker

Authorities are searching for a tanker ship laden with diesel fuel that went missing after an apparent commercial dispute. Malaysian officials earlier had suggested the tanker had been hijacked with 10 crew aboard.

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) identified the missing ship in a statement Wednesday as MT Vier Harmoni, which was last heard from in Indonesian territorial waters.

Initially there had been reports the ship could have been been preyed upon by pirates known to be active in that region.

But those fears proved unfounded after MEA chief Ahmad Puzi Kahar said that "internal problems" led to the ship's diversion from its plotted course.

Subsequent investigations revealed that the 53-meter (174-foot) Indonesian-flagged vessel owned by the Malaysia-based Vierlines Asia Group may have been seized as part of a commerical dispute between the company's management and its crew.

The ship was carrying about 900,000 liters (237,755 gallons) of diesel fuel valued at around $392,800 (348,630 euros). She had left the port of Tanjung Pelepas in Malaysia on Monday and dropped contact late Tuesday.

Indonesia's western naval command said the ship made contact Wednesday near the Indonesian island Batam, its last known location and has requested to dock in a nearby port.

"The tanker was not hijacked as there were no indications of violence," Indonesian Navy spokesman Edi Sucipto told the DPA news agency. "The captain contacted the agent twice asking to enter Batam because of internal management problems, but he did not disclose his position."

Vier Abdul Jamal, chief executive of the ship's owner Vierlines Asia Group, said the vessel has 10 Indonesian crew on board and is currently chartered by another company.

jar/se (Reuters, EFE, AP, dpa)

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