Greek-owned Tanker Hijacked in the Arabian Sea
Following a relatively quietened period at sea, a Liberia-flagged tanker was reported hijacked in the Arabian Sea by pirates.
MT Smyrni Hijacked - Photo: Marinetraffic.com
The Greek-owned tanker, MT Smyrni, dwt149998, owned by Dynacom Tankers Management Ltd (Greece) (with a further 40 vessels in the fleet), was attacked by 2 pirate skiffs approximately 285nm SSE of Masirah Island, Oman, on reportedly its second voyage since being built in 2011. The Suezmax vessel is the largest to be hijacked since February 2011.
The attack occurred at 0930 UTC, May 10, which saw a report stating that pirates had boarded the vessel. The tanker had enforced anti piracy measures, increased speed, made evasive manoeuvres and managed to evade the first 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 24knots and managed to successfully board and hijack the vessel and take hostage the 26 crew members. The owners and the reporting authority, UKMTO, lost contact with the vessel which was later confirmed by MSC(HOA) to have been hijacked. The 26 crew comprise of 11 Indians including the Master, 14 Filipinos and 1 Romanian. The ship's manager and recruiting agent in Mumbai has been as to obtain information on the health of the crew.
The attack was one of four that occurred in the Arabian Sea over the last two days following a period of little activity in the region.
Although it is not yet confirmed whether a security team was onboard the vessel, the recent law changes in Greece were established to permit armed guards on Greek-flagged vessels, whilst Liberia also permits armed guards on its flag vessels; recent reports from Greece claim that the vessel did not have a security team embarked.
Another factor which has heightened tension for seafarers in the region, was the report of an attack on an Aframax crude tanker, May 9, occurring approximately 353nm ESE of Socotra Island. At a distance of 50 meters from the vessel, the pirates fired seven RPG rounds and, allegedly, more than 300 rounds using AK47 fired upon the tanker.
Effective anti piracy measures resulted in the skiffs aborting and moving away. No injuries to crew were reported, however, the vessel sustained extensive damage to the bridge due to the weaponry used. Again, reports from Greece claim that no security team was embarked at the time, but this has yet to be confirmed. The concern is that such heavily armed attacks will increase, potentially overwhelming the less prepared vessels transiting the region.
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Submitted by Team@oceanuslive.org