Crew Hijack Their Own Ship in Pay Dispute

The oil carrier Vier Harmoni has been found in waters off Batam, Indonesia. Early reports claimed that there had been a hijacking, but the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) said in an update Wednesday August 17th that the vessel had probably been diverted by her own master, who told the owner that the ship would be returned to Batam due to an “internal management problem”.

“MMEA and our Indonesian counterparts worked together in tracking the ship. We were later informed that the ship was safe in Batam,” MMEA chief Datuk Ahmad Puzi Abdul Kahar told local media on Wednesday. “Initial investigations suggest that the crew members decided to sail the ship to Batam after a dispute between them and their employer.”

Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Indonesia said that the crew claimed that they had not been paid for a month. While hijackings for fuel theft are historically common in waters off of Indonesia, the crew is not thought to have nefarious intent.

Vier Harmoni, which sailed from the Tanjung Pelepas port in Malaysia on Tuesday August 16th is carrying diesel worth about $400,000.