Eleven members of the hijacked tug Asta have been recovered from a liferaft off the Adraiser Reef and the tug’s tow, barge Callista has been found but the tug is still missing, as is the vessel’s chief engineer says regional anti-piracy group ReCAAP.
ReCAAP reports that the surviving crew say they were boarded by eight masked men in dark clothing and armed with rifles and parangs, machete-like knives. The crew were blindfolded and locked in the cabins of the master and chief engineer.
On 10 February they were set adrift in a liferaft which was spotted by a Royal Malaysian vessel on 17 February. Barge Callista was located the same day.
ReCAAP notes the similarity between the taking of Asta and the hijacking of the tug Prospaq T1 and its tow, barge Prospaq B1 in April, 2009. In that incident the crew were also set adrift in a liferaft. Neither vessel has been located.
ReCAAP ha issued a special report on the hijacking of Asta, downloadable here.