Somali pirates seized a ship carrying coal through the Gulf of Aden.
Somali pirates seized a ship carrying coal through the Gulf of Aden, according to DryShips Inc., the vessel"s owner. The Saldanha was captured yesterday while sailing west through the gulf that links Asia and Europe, said a security officer at Athens-based DryShips who declined to give his name. The vessel had taken maximum security measures to avoid attack and followed all advice given by coalition military forces, he said today by telephone.
Somali piracy attacks surged in 2008, including the hijacking of the fully loaded Saudi Arabian supertanker Sirius Star and a ship carrying tanks. In response, an international coalition of U.S., NATO, United Nations and European Union states has dispatched warships to protect sea lanes, which so far has reduced the attacks.
?It"s definitely concerning that it has happened but the areas that navies are patrolling are absolutely huge,? Cyrus Mody, a London-based manager at the International Maritime Bureau, which collates piracy data, said by phone. It"s still ?early days? for military forces in the area after they stepped up protection in mid-December, he said.
The pirates used two or three small boats to approach the Saldanha and boarded quickly, the officer said. They allowed the ship"s captain to make a phone call to say the crew was safe and unhurt, he added. The pirates have made no communication so far and likely won"t do so for two to three days, the officer said.
The seizure was first reported yesterday by the British Broadcasting Corp., which has a reporter on a warship in the gulf. Three other similar-sized ships were seized last year, Mody said.
The Saldanha was built in 2004, flies the Maltese flag and has a carrying capacity of 75,707 deadweight tons, Lloyd"s Register-Fairplay data on Bloomberg shows. The ship last visited the Thai port of Sriracha, according to AISLive ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. Before that, it was located off Australia.
The French military said last week 24 attacks have taken place so far in the Gulf of Aden and off Somalia"s east coast in 2009, and 3 vessels were captured. Nine attacks were repelled by military forces and the others were resisted following actions taken by the ships themselves.