Southeast Asian waters have long been notorious for piracy and 2015 has been no exception. The ICC’s International Maritime Bureau reported an average of one pirate attack every two weeks in Southeast Asian waters in the first half of the year.
The tanker Rehoboth was hijacked earlier this year by a group of half a dozen pirates on January 28. Initially, eight masked men with knives boarded Rehoboth from a wooden boat, and forced the crew of 14 onto a lifeboat. Four of the accused were arrested in Indonesia in February. There were no calls for a ransom of crew or claims of responsibility by any organization.
On February 19, the tanker was found abandoned, aground on a mud bottom near Davao City, about 400 nautical miles from the area where the vessel was reportedly captured. The vessel’s 1,100 tons of diesel on board was transferred to another ship before it was abandoned. The vessel has not been recovered by its owner or its insurer, and authorities report that residents nearby have been looting the vessel since its abandonment. If it is not claimed, it will be scrapped or sold. Philippine Coast Guard said that the vessel is free from oil spill but still the Indonesian consul and salvage firm Harbor Star had to be consulted for the scrapping of the vessel.
In the meantime, the police got wind of Mr. Wangkanusa, the alleged pirate leader who was hiding in Davao City since February. In a careful dragnet operation, Indonesian and Filipino police located him at his rental house in Davao City, Mindanao. When he was served a warrant on the morning of November 11, he attempted to escape by leaping from a second-story window. Once Mr. Wangkanusa’s papers are processed, authorities say he will be deported to Indonesia to face trial, as the alleged offense occurred in Indonesian waters. He was one of Indonesia’s most wanted fugitives. Police officials said that they are checking his background to determine whether he has any connection to terrorist groups.