The handling of impounded oil tanker Pratama 128 by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) could have been negligent, sources have told the local press.
The sources claimed that standard operating procedures (SOP) on handling maritime seizures were not followed. “The proper SOP is to first secure the vessel and have a 24-hour watch by armed personnel. They should be supported by a patrol boat that we call an anchoring team nearby,” an unnamed source told Malay Mail. Allegedly neither of these two SOPs was followed.
The source claimed that the incident showed the MMEA’s laxity in maritime evidence seizure and handling procedures.
Pratama 128, which went missing after its arrest, apparently turned up two days later off the coast of Pulau Rupat in Dumai, Indonesia, where it was discovered by Indonesian navy. It appears that the oil tanker was stolen by the ship’s own crew when the MMEA patrol team returned to the jetty.
MMEA director-general Datuk Seri Zulkifli Abu Bakar said that the incident had no signs of piracy and the agency was in negotiations with the Indonesian navy to bring back the oil tanker to Malaysian shores.
1977-built, Indonesia-flagged, 325 gt Pratama 128 is owned and managed by Niaga Pratama Putra of Jakarta, Indonesia.