Three vessels detained in Malaysian waters for illegally transferring oil

KOTA TINGGI (THE STAR) – Three vessels have been detained for attempting to transfer oil in Tanjung Sedili waters in Malaysia without permission from the authorities.

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) discovered the suspicious ship-to-ship activities at 14 nautical miles east of Tanjung Sedili Besar at around 7pm on Wednesday, said its Johor Director First Admiral Nurul Hizam Zakaria.

Following a tip-off from the maritime community, an MMEA patrol boat went to the area and found a 333m, very large crude carrier (VLCC), a tanker vessel and a service boat hovering close to one another, he said.

“Checks found that the VLCC was in the midst of transferring oil to the other vessels without a valid permit.

“The three ships were also anchored illegally during the incident, which are offences under the Merchant Shipping Ordinance 1952,” he said yesterday. The Comoros-registered VLCC had 19 Indian nationals and a Pakistani man onboard, while the Labuan-registered tanker vessel had 24 men onboard, including those from India, Ukraine and Russia.

He added that the service boat, registered in Indonesia, had an all-Indonesian crew.

Nurul Hizam said the case would be investigated under the Customs Act 1967, Petroleum Development Act 1974, Petroleum (Safety Measures) Act 1984, and Control of Supplies Act 1961.

Those on the vessels could also face charges under Section 186 of the Penal Code for obstructing public servants from carrying out their duties, and for not cooperating, he said.

“MMEA appreciates all the information and cooperation given by the local fishing community, and I hope that we can continue working together to safeguard our waters,” he said.

The three vessels found in Tanjung Sedili waters in Malaysia. PHOTO: THE STAR