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calendar   Monday - May 14, 2012

I haven’t missed not doing these posts

I haven’t done a Somali Pirates story in a while, mostly because there hasn’t been one to do. For half a year or so they’ve been batting a big fat zero, between the typhoon season, resistance by commercial shipping, and what amounted to a near blockade of their coasts by international naval effort.

Maybe if Obama could come out of the closet and be pro-pirate, he could add another color to his rainbow halo and this problem would just go away.



Somali Pirates Seize Oil Tanker

Navy Gives Up The Chase, Lets Pirates Go



image

photo of MT Smyrni by Igor Torgachkin for shipspotting.com



10.05.2012: 0923 UTC: Posn: 15:58N – 061:02E, (Around 250nm SE of Ras Al Madrakah, Oman), Off Somalia.
Ten Pirates in two skiffs armed with automatic weapons chased a crude oil tanker underway. The tanker enforced anti piracy measures, increased speed, made evasive manoeuvres and managed to evade the boarding attempt resulting in the skiffs regrouping with the mother ship in the vicinity. Later, the skiffs launched a second attack on the tanker, approached at a speed of 24 knots and managed to successfully board and hijack the vessel and take hostage the 26 crew members.

MT Smyrni was seized approximately 285 nautical miles southeast of Somalia. Pirates hijacked a Liberian-flag oil tanker with 26 men on board in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Oman on May 10. The MT Smyrni was reportedly sailing from Turkey with a cargo of 135,000 tons of crude oil when it was seized approximately 285 nautical miles southeast of Somalia.

“No communications have been received from the ship since the ship was boarded,” ship owner Dynacom Tankers Management said.

The 149,998-deadweight ton Smyrni, which joined Greece-based Dynacom’s fleet last year, was on its second voyage.

“The Liberian government is in the know of the matter and we are closely watching the developments,” the Indian Shipping Ministry said.

Reports said the ship was attacked twice before being boarded by armed pirates. The ship’s crew included 14 Filipinos, 11 Indians and one Romanian. According to the International Maritime Organization, African pirates are holding captive about 300 crew members on some 17 ships.

The tanker’s capture comes after a recent fall in the number of hijackings in the region. The drop has been attributed to plans by several countries to allow ships using their flags to sail with armed guards. It has not been reported, however, whether the Smyrni had such guards on board.

We have seen a surge of recent attacks over the last few days in the general vicinity of the Smyrni hijacking. Earlier on Thursday, a tanker evaded an attack while underway approximately 262nm ENE of Socotra Island, Yemen.  The IMB report states that six pirates in a skiff approached and fired upon a tanker underway from a distance of 500 meters, but were turned away after an armed security team aboard the vessel returned fire at the skiffs.

Wednesdays violent attack on a crude tanker occurred approximately 345nm ESE of Socotra Island, Yemen, as shown here on the map.

On Wednesday, reports came of a violent attack against an unidentified crude tanker underway approximately 345nm ESE of Socotra Island, Yemen.  The pirates in that attack allegedly fired over 300 AK47 rounds and 7 RPG rounds at the vessel from a distance of just 50 meters.  The vessel in that attack was able to avoid being boarded but did sustain damage.

UK’s The Guardian said the hijacking of the MT Smyrni was the first successful attack by pirates on an oil tanker off the Horn of Africa in a year.

OceanUSlive.Org, a social networking site for the maritime industry, said the attack was one of four to have taken place in the Arabian Sea in the past few days after a lull in pirate activity.

The MT Smyrni is a Suezmax class carrier that can transport 1 million barrels of oil, compared to the 3 million barrels that the largest ULCC carriers can handle. The ship is almost brand new, 275m in length. When loaded she has a top speed of 9 knots.

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The Combined Task Force 151 (CTF151) has decided to stop pursuing Somali pirates who captured a Liberian-flagged tanker carrying about 135,000 tonnes of crude oil for PTT Plc in the Gulf of Eden on Thursday after receiving a report that the pirates have taken the tanker to the Somali coast and demanded a ransom, a navy source said.

The source, citing information from Thai navy officers operating with CTF151, said the task force, commanded by Rear Adm Thanin Likitwong of the Thai navy, could not take action to retake the tanker because in doing so it needed the consent of its owner, the owners of the crude oil and their insurance company.

The tanker, MT Smyrni, is owned by Dynacom Tankers Management of Greece.

“More importantly, the vessel has no citadel for the crew to hide in safety and no armed guards. Therefore, it would not be safe for the 26 crew members if an operation is launched to retake the tanker,” the source said.

None of the crew was Thai. The source said when the tanker was attacked by the pirates it was about 800km from the Somali coast in an area in which there were no battleships.

Fort Victoria, a CTF151 ship with 16 Thai navy officers on board, followed the tanker from a distance but took no action due to concerns for the crew’s safety.

The pirates have contacted the tanker’s owner and the insurance company is expected to quickly negotiate with them because the 135,000 tonnes of oil belongs to many firms including PTT Plc of Thailand.

No permission for a rescue from the owners, and a brand new ship with a $115 million cargo at sea in dangerous waters without guards or even a safe place for the crew to hide. Gee, I’m sure her crew is really happy about those cost saving gestures right now.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/14/2012 at 08:09 PM   
Filed Under: • Pirates, aarrgh! •  
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