A Vietnamese tanker that vanished from radar last Friday upon leaving Singapore was pirated for diesel, according to its captain.
A source from Vietnam Marine Search and Rescue Center told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper Thursday that two Vietnamese fishing boats are towing the Sunrise 689 back to the southernmost province of Ca Mau.
Captain Nguyen Quyet Thang called the tanker owner, Hai Phong Sea Product Shipbuilding Company, at around 5:30 a.m. Thursday saying pirates took all their cargoes including 5,200 tons of diesel, before releasing it.
They also destroyed contact equipment on the vessel.
Two of the crew members were injured in the hassle but the other 16 were fine, he said.
The tanker is expected to arrive home in the afternoon.
The 6,000-ton tanker left Singapore on October 2 but vanished from radar at 4:27 a.m. the next morning.
Vietnam marine officials said they lost contact with the vessel when it was around 120 nautical miles (222 kilometers) north-east of Singapore and 360 nm (592 km) from Ca Mau.
Dao Van Quang, director of the Hai Phong company in the northern port city, told Tuoi Tre reporter that the tanker was pirated several hours after they left Horizon port in Singapore.
“They could be pirates [operating] in the Singapore waters,” Quang said.
Quang gave a different detail on the diesel loss, saying the pirates took away one third of the shipment, which was meant for delivery to Quang Tri Province in north-central Vietnam.
“It’s very lucky that the captain and all the crew members are safe,” he said.
Nguyen Nhat, director of Vietnam Marine Administration, said the marine rescue center is working with coast guards to help the tanker get to shore.
Nhat also said the crew members had told them around one third of their diesel was taken.
The Sunrise was the 12 such piracy case since April in Southeast Asia, where tankers have been hijacked, and then released after the cargoes are stolen, the Associated Press said in a report Thursday, citing the International Maritime Bureau based in Kuala Lumpur.
Trinh Thi Mai Huong, 32, the captain’s wife, told Tuoi Tre she received his call at around 5:20 a.m.
Families of the crew members in the Sunrise 689. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre
Huong said their family in Hai Phong was still very worried when her cell phone received a call from a local number.
“I almost burst out to tears hearing my husband’s voice,” she said.
She said he informed briefly that “the boat was released and on its way to Vietnam.”
She received a confirmation call from his company several minutes later.
Happy as she is about his return, Huong said she strongly believes that “as a captain, Thang is one of the two being injured.”
Vu Van Tan, family of crew member Vu Van Thu from the nearby Ha Nam Province, said he also called home at nearly 6 a.m., before a call from the company.
“It’s good enough that they can go home,” Tan said.
The crew members cannot inform their specific position as their GPS devices were all broken.
Families of the crew members, all said they have no plans to travel south to welcome them yet, as they don't have money.