The Chinese government has claimed that the massive Chinese hopper dredger MV Chuan Hong 68, which fled Indonesian waters after its arrest by the Indonesian Navy, had been chartered by a Malaysian company, Accenture Strategy Sdn. Bhd.
"From our initial information … it has been engaged in offshore engineering in the waters specified by the Malaysian side according to the contract," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said on Wednesday as released by the Chinese Embassy in Jakarta.
The 8,352 gross ton vessel, measuring 122 meters in length and 32 m in width, was caught by the Indonesian Navy after allegedly scavenging the cargo of the wreck of Swedish supertanker Seven Skies' in waters around the Anambas islands, Riau Islands province, last week.
The Navy arrested 20 crew members, consisting of 16 Chinese citizens, three Indians and one Malaysian.
The vessel, however, fled to international waters as the Navy was about to deploy a military boat to guard it.
"The Embassy of China in Indonesia has communicated with the Indonesian side about this matter. The Chinese side hopes that Indonesia can coordinate with the Malaysian company to settle the issue and take credible steps to ensure the safety and legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese citizens detained," Geng said.
Seven Skies sank in the waters between Jemaja and Repong islands in the Anambas islands in 1969, to a depth of 64 m.
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said her ministry would contact Interpol to seek help in locating the dredger.