‘Hijacked Aris 13 vessel an easy target for Somali pirates’ 

Somalia pirates hijack first ship since 2012 

The tanker Aris 13 hijacked in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia was an “easy target for pirates” according to Oceans Beyond Piracy.

Somali pirates successfully hijacked the Sri-Lankan flagged bunker tanker earlier this week in what was the first such incident in five years in the former piracy blackspot.

Aid group Oceans Beyond Piracy has said that a number of factors made the vessel easy prey for pirates.

“The Aris 13 was preparing to cut through the Socotra Gap between the tip of Somalia and the island of Socotra. This route is frequently used as a cost- and time-saving measure for vessels traveling down the east coast of Africa despite the threat of piracy.

“Additionally the Aris 13 has a low freeboard of only three meters and was moving at a slow speed of five knots.

“These factors made the vessel an easier target for pirates, who typically board ships with ladders from fast moving skiffs. This attack reinforces the need for vessels to follow shipping industry Best Management Practices (BMP) within the BMP specified High Risk Area.”

The pirates that hijacked the bunker have demanded a ransom according to EU Naval Force (EU Navfor).

Oceans Beyond Piracy said group claiming responsibility for the vessel’s capture belongs to the Majerteen/Siwaaqroon sub-clan, led by the pirate Jacfar Saciid Cabdulaahi.

The incident has led to fears that the successful hijack could trigger a wave of new attacks on vessels by Somali pirates.

Somali pirates have still been quite active in recent months. Oceans Beyond Piracy’s analysis indicates the following:

  • The number of reported failed attacks and suspicious incidents rose in 2016.
  • Armed security teams deterred 11 attacks in 2016.
  • The Muhammadi, attacked on 22 November 2015 roughly 250 nm off Eyl, is the last known hijacking incident in the region.
  • On October 22, the CPO Korea, a UK-flagged chemical tanker, was approached by a skiff of armed men who exchanged fire with the security team.
  • In addition to the eight Sri Lankans on the Aris 13, Somali pirates are still holding eight seafarers from the fishing vessel, the Siraj, who were captured on 26 March, 2015.

“Piracy has diminished since 2012, largely due to mitigating efforts at sea by international naval forces, adherence to industry Best Management Practices, and the use of private security,” said the aid group.

“However the situation in Somalia that originally permitted piracy to flourish has not changed. This has left the door open for other forms of maritime crime, such as smuggling and trafficking. There is a need for continued vigilance against piracy and other forms of maritime crime in the region.”

Those sentiments have been echoed by IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim, who has urged the shipping industry to be vigilant against piracy.

He also called upon the Federal Government of Somalia and its regional authorities in Puntland to take prompt action to ensure the safe and speedy release of the eight seafarers being held hostage.

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