SANDAKAN: A Vietnamese merchant ship – MV PHU AN 268 – was saved from a robbery or kidnapping attempt on Sunday due to the prompt action of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom).
Esscom Commander DCP Datuk Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid said that emergency radio signals were detected from the vessel while it was passing through Philippine waters.
He added that the captain of the ship reported that he spotted a boat with six people on it trailing his vessel in a suspicious manner while travelling in waters off Boan Island in the Philippines.
DCP Wan Abdul Bari then said in a statement issued on Tuesday that the captain increased speed and changed course to head towards Malaysian waters.
He added that Esscom acted on the information and sent a Viper patrol boat and KD Sri Tiga to the Malaysian maritime border, where they found MV PHU AN 268 and safely escorted it to Sandakan.
DCP Wan Abdul Bari urged all boat crews to install Radio Channel 16 and the automatic identification system in their vessels to make it easy to report any suspicious activity to Esscom.
He added that local fishermen were reminded to avoid fishing in Philippine waters, and said that some local fishermen were still fishing off Taganak Island in the Philippines.
“We view this seriously as the waters between Boan Island and Taganak Island have been the location for several kidnappings. As such, this is a high-risk area,” he said.