A Singapore-flagged tanker is hijacked off the coast of Kenya after maritime bodies warn of increasing Somali pirate attacks.
The Singapore-flagged liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanker MV York has been hijacked by pirates off the east African coast, the European Union naval anti-piracy force EUNAVFOR confirmed on October 24 2010.
The 5,076-ton York, which is operated by a Greek company, was attacked by two skiffs and seized 50 miles (80 km) from the Kenyan port of Mombasa on October 23 2010. It has a crew of 17, including a German master, two Ukrainians and 14 Filipinos.
The Turkish warship Gaziantep, operating in the region as part of the Combined Maritime Forces, sent up its helicopter, which observed pirates with weapons on board the vessel, EUNAVFOR said. It added that “in a separate but seemingly linked incident,” the fishing vessel Golden Wave, hijacked earlier on October 9 2010, was seen in the vicinity of the York.
After this latest hijacking, Somali pirates currently hold 19 vessels with 428 hostages, according to EUNAVFOR records.
Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme told Reuters news agency that the pirates had seized the York less than 12 hours after the tanker had discharged her LPG cargo and sailed empty from Mombasa.
Reuters cited a pirate who identified himself as Hassan as saying in a telephone interview that the tanker was heading for the pirate base of Garad, on the coast of central Somalia.
"The crew is well. I can't say any more at the moment," Theagenis Sarris, a spokesman for the Interunity Management Corporation (IMC), told the German news agency DPA on October 24 2010.
IMB Warns Somali Pirates Intensifying Attacks
On October 18 2010 the International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau (IMB) warned that
Somali pirates had intensified attacks away from their own coast and were responsible for 44 per cent of the 289 piracy incidents on the world’s seas in the first nine months of 2010.
Somali pirates had carried out 35 of the 39 ship hijackings worldwide from January to September 2010, using ocean-going fishing vessels to reach as far as the southern Red Sea, where they hijacked a chemical tanker in July 2010, the first such hijacking recorded in the area, the IMB said.
The pirates were heavily armed with automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades, it added.
The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre’s worldwide figures show that in the past nine months pirates boarded 128 ships and fired at 52. A total of 70 vessels reported thwarting attacks. Pirates used guns in 137 incidents and knives in 66, killing one crew member, injuring 27 and taking 773 hostages.
Globally, the number of vessels hijacked was higher than the 34 recorded in the same period last year, despite a slight fall in the number of piracy incidents, down from 306 in the first nine months of 2009.
Captain Pottengal Mukundan, the IMB Director, said the presence of naval forces from around the world in the Gulf of Aden and the Somali Basin was vital in protecting merchant shipping against piracy. In the Gulf of Aden attacks were greatly reduced, with only 44 reported in 2010 compared with 100 for the same period of 2009.
But Mukundan added that there were limits to what the foreign naval forces could achieve.
“Increased intelligence gathering coupled with strategic placement of naval assets has resulted in the targeting of suspected Pirate Action Groups before they become operational. However, this is a vast area and the navies cannot realistically cover it...,” Mukundan said.
The monsoon weather that had been deterring piracy further out to sea ended in mid-September, opening the way for renewed attacks, the IMB warned.
Other international anti-piracy watchdogs, such as the U. S. Transport Department, have warned that piracy in in the Gulf of Aden and northwestern Indian Ocean is likely to increase until early December.
Earlier in October 2010, EUNAVFOR officials told BBC News that pirates would probably become “more active and intense” with the onset of the piracy season, as their success rate was declining.
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