Somali pirates hijack tanker at Omani anchorage

fairchembogeyA maritime security alert has been issued after the Marshall Islands flagged MV Fairchem Bogey was seized early in the morning on August 20, whilst anchored at the Omani port of Salalah.

The managers of the MV Fairchem Bogey, Anglo-Eastern Ship Management,  issued a statement saying that at around 0600 (LT) on Sunday, August 20, Port Control at Salalah, Oman, received a call from the vessel that suspected pirates were boarding the vessel.

At the time of the incident, the MV Fairchem Bogey (a 26,350 dwt chemical tanker) was in a designated anchorage (within the Salalah port limit) waiting for berthing instructions, after discharging at Al Jubail.

The Omani Coast Guard approached the vessel within the hour but were warned off by the pirates who asked them to move away to avoid casualties to the crew.

The MV Fairchem Bogey was manned by a crew of 21 Indians and it appears that all are safe with no injuries.

The vessel had transited GOA with armed guards onboard, but who had been dropped off at Muscat on August 10. After discharging at Al Jubail the vessel arrived at Salalah on  August 18, and was waiting for berthing.

In an advisory on the incident, GAC Protective Services notes that it occurred two miles off the coast and well inside Omani territorial waters. An attack so close to the port is unusual for Somali pirates, although they have been driven back to waters around the Gulf of Aden and coast of Oman amid the ongoing Indian Ocean monsoon.

The incident shows that pirates will not necessarily be deterred by proximity to a well-patrolled port.

GAC Protective Services says that vessel operators are advised to exercise caution when transiting or anchoring in the area, including in Omani waters and even in harbor areas. Vigilance, crew preparation, watch rotas and other security measures are recommended at all times.

August 22, 2011

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