The captain of a Vietnamese ship which was hijacked while en route from Singapore to Vietnam a week ago and released early Thursday morning recalled seeing some of his crew members being assaulted by the pirates.
The Sunrise 689 oil tanker with 18 crew members on board, which belongs to the Hai Phong Fishery Shipbuilding Company, is currently sailing to the southernmost province of Ca Mau, according to the Vietnam Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Center (Vietnam MRCC).
While heading home, Nguyen Quyet Thang, the ship’s captain, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) Newspaper via phone that the Sunrise 689, was approached by a high-speed boat and two fishing boats just a couple of hours after departing the Horizon port in Singapore on October 2.
The hijackers, who Thang says looked Indonesian, were armed with guns and knives. Once the boats pulled up alongside the tanker, the pirates jumped on board and took control of the crew. Some of the pirates destroyed the vessel’s communication system.
The Vietnamese crew members were given only a meal per day during their week-long ordeal, and some were assaulted when they tried to resist the pirates on the first day, Thang said.
As result of the attacks, machinist Luong Dai Thanh suffered a broken toe and badly injured left kneecap while crewman Tran Van Lich was left with an ankle injury.
To prevent further attacks, captain Thang and other crew members made sure to cooperate with the hijackers.
Thang added that the pirates stole one-third of the vessel’s oil cargo, and his ship was freed around 2 am on October 9 near Thai waters.
As of 9:20 am today, Thang told a Tuoi Tre reporter that the Sunrise 689 was about 50 nautical miles from Hon Khoai Island in southern Vietnam’s Ca Mau province.
However, Colonel Le Van Minh, a senior Vietnamese naval officer, told Tuoi Tre at 11:30 am today that four coast guard ships have been assigned to escort the Sunrise 689 to Phu Quoc Island, off the southern province of Kien Giang, so that the injured sailors can receive medical aid.
Colonel Minh said the ship is expected to reach Phu Quoc Island at around 10pm or 11pm today.
In the mean time, captain Thang said all the crew members are safe and looking forward to returning to Vietnam mainland after their ordeal.
The tanker was hijacked while carrying more than 5,200 tons of oil from Singapore to Vietnam’s central province of Quang Tri.
At about 5:30 am this morning, Thang used his mobile phone to inform the Hai Phong Fishery Shipbuilding Company that the ship had been attacked by pirates, according to the Vietnam MRCC.
After being freed, the ship received support from two fishing boats while it was sailing towards Vietnam.