Somali pirates seize US-bound crude oil tanker - IMB

30 November 2009 18:15  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS news)--An oil tanker carrying crude oil from Saudi Arabia to the US was hijacked off the east coast of Somalia by pirates, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said on Monday.

The MV Maran Centaurus was attacked on 29 November, said IMB spokesperson Cyrus Mody.

“There is very little information available regarding the hijacking. But it seems that in spite of the vessel maintaining a recommended distance from the Somali coast, the pirates have been able to take the tanker,” Mody said.

Last week, India’s military announced that it would deploy a warship, the INS Savitri, off the Seychelles to counter the recent spate of Somali pirate activity, with the ship assigned to the region until early January.

Mody dismissed India's deployment, saying that even 10 naval vessels would be insufficient to patrol such a vast area.

The pirates are becoming more audacious in their attempts to hijack vessels off the coast of Somalia due to the good work being done in the Gulf of Aden, Mody said.

A solution to reduce the amount of pirate activity would be to target the mother ships that are aiding the pirates in coordinating attacks, according to Mody.

“Sorting out Somalia aside, the next best thing is for the international forces to target the mother ships. However, a lot of these vessels can be confused with ordinary fishing vessels, so the situation needs to be handled with caution,” Mody said.

The end of the monsoon season and Ramadan has meant a pick-up in pirate activity along the east coast of Africa, and seafarers have been advised to stay as far away from the coast as possible, according to the IMB.

Somalia has no central government and armed militias have often been involved in supporting piracy in what has become regarded as one of the most dangerous stretches of water in the world.

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By: Dan Horlock
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