Bunkering Tanker Hijacked Off Somalia: Officials

Tuesday March 14, 2017

Somali officials say pirates hijacked the bunker tanker Aris 13 on Monday - the first time a commercial vessel has been successfully hijacked off Somalia's coast since 2012, Reuters reports.

"The pirates hijacked the oil tanker and they brought it near Alula," Mohamud Ahmed Eynab, District Commissioner for Alula, told Reuters.

John Steed, Oceans Beyond Piracy's (OBP's) Regional Manager for the Horn of Africa, who has also provided comment on the incident, said: "the ship reported it was being followed by two skiffs yesterday afternoon. Then it disappeared."

The Sri Lankan government is said to have confirmed that eight Sri Lankan nationals were onboard at the time of the hijacking; however, there have been conflicting reports, with Sri Lankan media reporting that Sri Lankan Navy Spokesperson Lieutenant Commander Chaminda Walakuluge has said that the vessel's crew were not Sri Lankans.

According to VesselsValue, the 1,800 DWT Aris 13 has a market value of $1.01 million.

Graeme Gibbon-Brooks, head of Dryad Maritime Intelligence, has said being low, slow, and close to the coast made Aris 13 an easy target, noting that crews have begun to relax their vigilance after a relatively long period of security for shipping in the region.

Gibbon-Brooks says that Somali authorities must work to ensure the hijacked vessel is not used as mothership from which to launch further attacks, adding: "the way that the authorities react now is crucial."