Impounded oil smuggling boats escape from Sattahip Bay under cover of night

Sattahip Marine police are in pursuit of three oil tankers that disappeared overnight. The vessels had been anchored at the Sattahip Marine Police dock and were moved to anchor in the bay due to severe weather, from where they escaped under the cover of darkness.

SATTAHIP, Thailand – Sattahip marine police boats were dispatched towards the sea off Rayong Province following the escape of three seized oil smuggling vessels from Sattahip Bay during the night of June 11. The vessels are suspected of heading towards Trat Province and potentially into neighbouring countries’ waters.

Pol. Lt. Col. Kobchai To-on, Inspector at Sattahip Marine Police Station reported that he and his team set out to pursue the three oil tankers that had disappeared overnight. These vessels were part of a group of five confiscated on March 19 and had been anchored at the Sattahip Marine Police dock. Concerns about severe weather damaging the old dock led to an order on June 9 to move the vessels to anchor in the bay, where they remained visible until approximately 9 p.m. on June 11. At that time, witnesses reported seeing the three boats anchored with their lights off, which did not raise any immediate suspicion.

The absence of the vessels was discovered on the morning of June 12, prompting an immediate investigation and search operation. Marine police boats were deployed to locate the missing vessels. Additionally, border patrol ships and surveillance boats from the First Naval Area Command, along with marine police from Chanthaburi Province, were notified to join the search efforts.

Reports came in around 8:45 a.m. on June 12 of sightings of the three vessels near the far side of Koh Chang in Trat Province. Authorities are in the process of verifying these reports and taking further action to apprehend the escaping vessels and their operators to prevent the oil smugglers from reaching international waters.