The hijacking of Singapore-registered vessel MT Joaquim in the Malacca Strait has signalled the current risks facing seafarers in South East Asia, UK-based maritime intelligence agency Dryad Maritime has said.

The vessel went missing in Selangor waters earlier this month and was later found 4nm off Tanjung Kling, Malaysia.

According to the initial reports, the incident saw the siphoning of 3,000t of fuel.

The maritime intelligence agency said this is the fourth successful hijacking for the purpose of fuel robbery in the last 18 months within the Malacca Strait.

"The nature of these incidents within the Malacca Strait is very similar and mirrors those in the South China Sea which have been occurring at regular intervals during the same time frame."

Dryad Maritime senior analyst Steve McKenzie said: "The nature of these incidents within the Malacca Strait is very similar and mirrors those in the South China Sea which have been occurring at regular intervals during the same time frame."

The last hijacking incident was reported in June when MT Orkim Harmony went missing and was discovered off the coast of Cambodi; however the efforts of several national security forces resulted in the arrest of eight Indonesians suspected as the hijackers, while five more escaped after leaving the vessel.

"This failure to capture all of the gang responsible for the hijacking shows that, despite a high level of commitment to the search by the authorities, bringing all of those involved to justice remains extremely challenging," McKenzie added.

Dryad Maritime’s analysis highlighted the opportunities available to reduce the threat of hijackings and similar attacks.

It said that the attacks can be predicted by monitoring the events surrounding incidents of hijacking which, in turn will provide seafarers with an effective defence against the threat of maritime crime.