For the first time since 2012, Somali pirates hijacked a tanker on March 13 off the coast of Somalia, the EU Naval Force counter-piracy operation has confirmed.
The authorities said they received positive confirmation from the master of the Comoros-flagged tanker, Aris 13, that his ship and crew are currently being held captive by a number of suspected armed pirates in an anchorage off the north coast of Puntland, close to Alula.
According to EUNAVFOR, the ship master confirmed that armed men were on board his ship and they were demanding a ransom for the ship’s release.
The attack came shortly after the master issued a mayday alert to say that two skiffs were closing in on his ship in the Gulf of Aden.
The 1990-built tanker Aris 13 was on its way from Sri Lanka’s port of Colombo to the Mogadishu port in Somalia when the attack occurred.
Speaking to World Maritime News, Gerry Northwood OBE, COO at MAST, a maritime risk management consultancy, said the attack was not surprising considering the current political situation in Somalia and the increasing confidence of those transiting through the Western Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden.
“The characteristics of the hijack are similar to some of the early piracy activity we saw around 2005, and those responsible will have analysed the changing economic and political situation around them and decided that now was an opportune time to launch an attack,” World Maritime News quoted Northwood as saying.
The EU Naval Force said all of its assets deployed to Operation Atalanta are continuing to monitor the situation.