The Indonesian Navy has traced and intercepted MT Vier Harmoni, a Malaysian tanker that was seized by its own crew in the middle of August as a result of a financial dispute with the shipowner.
The ship reportedly has an Indonesian crew of 10, and was carrying some 900,000 litres of diesel when it went missing, worth about $400,000.
Early reports claimed that there had been a hijacking, but the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) quickly said 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, adding: “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.