ReCAAP has issued a report on the hijacking of the MT Lapin, which occurred on February 13th.
As per our previous article, six to eight pirates armed withe pistols and knives boarded the Lapin from a small boat around 40nm WSW of Port Klang, Malaysia and took control of the tanker. An unknown vessel then came alongside the Lapin and fuel/cargo siphoning operations began. The Lapin was carrying around five tons of diesel and 2,000 tons of bunker oil. On February 14th at around 0400 hours local time, the pirates stopped the ship and anchored her around 63nm SW of Port Klang.
Following the siphoning operation, the perpetrators then destroyed comms equipment on board the Lapin and then tied the crew up, telling them that an improvised explosive device (IED) had been left on board and warned the crew not to move before they made their escape.
At around 0700 LT on the same day, the crew managed to free themselves and sailed towards Thailand. On February 15th at 0900 LT, the Lapin anchored approximately 14nm West of Ko Tarutao, Thailand and activated the vessel’s Ship Security Alarm System (SSAS) and contacted their shipping company with the help of a passing fishing boat. The Royal Thai Navy responded, informing ReCAAP ISC and then boarded the ship. An explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) team managed to disarm the ‘IED’ and found that the package was only an electronic circuit with no explosives attached.
The use of a dummy ‘bomb’ is a first in the region and was clearly designed to slow the authorities’ response down and allow the pirates more time to escape as well as control the crew themselves. Whether other gangs will attempt the same remains to be seen, but it’s certainly a very new twist on piracy.