September 29, 2010
Pirates seize asphalt tanker
A maritime security alert has been issued for the Indian Ocean following the reported hijacking of a Panama-flagged vessel with 15 crew members on board.
The 3,884 dwt MT Asphalt Venture is believed to have been traveling to Mombasa and is now en route to Xaradheere in northern Somalia, reports GAC Protective Solutions.
NATO Shipping Center reports that at "282000 UTC a merchant vessel was reported pirated in position 07 07S 041 02E." It says that position is in the close proximity of a pirate action group sighted and reported in an earlier NATO report
NATO warns that the weather is becoming more favorable for pirate operations in the Arabian Sea and southern Somali Basin as the effects of the southwest monsoon abate.
"We assess that significant numbers of Somali Pirates are preparing to get underway and that some are probably already in transit to established shipping lanes. At least one Pirate Action Group has been observed in the central Somali Basin and several others are assessed to be operational. The risk of piracy is currently increased in the southern Somali Basin south of 3 degrees north and in the Eastern Gulf of Aden," says NATO.
"Pirate groups are likely to exploit pirated dhows and fishing vessels as mother ships to extend their range into the Arabian Sea and the central Indian Ocean," says NATO. "The pirated Taiwanese fishing vessel Tai Yuan 227 remains unlocated and has the potential to conduct pirate operations east of 65 East. The Tai Yuan 227 is a white hulled fishing vessel, approximately 50 metres long, with the registration numbers BH3Z87 painted in large black letters on the hull. These vessels represent an active threat to merchant shipping and any small boat observed in the open ocean more than 300Nm from the Somali coast should be considered to be a potential pirate vessel."
NATO also assesses that the pirated VLCC Samho Dream is currently conducting pirate mother ship operations near the shipping lanes, approximately 190 nm SE of Socotra Island. (Approximately 10 38N 056 44E). The vessel is tracking eastbound.
The Samho Dream is a 319,000 dwt, crude oil tanker, approximately 333 m long, with an orange hull and white superstructure. This vessel represents an active threat to merchant shipping and any small boat observed in the vicinity of the Samho Dream should be considered to be a potential pirate vessel.