Monday, May 10, 2010

Somali Pirates Attempt to Hijack South Korean-Flagged Vessel near Comoros

A South Korean-flagged ship managed to escape from an attack by Somali pirates early Wednesday, the European Union Naval Force said.

Naval Force spokesman John Harbour said the MV Ocean Trader came under attack from pirates approximately 200 nautical miles northwest of the Comoros Islands, off the southeast coast of Africa. "The ship, with a dead weight of 39,833 tons, managed to evade the attack and all personnel are reported to be well," Harbour said.

The development came a few hours after Somali pirates hijacked the Liberian-flagged oil tanker 'Moscow University' approximately 350 nautical miles east of the Yemeni island of Socatra.

The Libeiran-flagged vessel was heading east with a final destination of China. The ship has a crew of 23, all from Russia, and all are believed to be well.

Moscow University, with dead weight of 106,474 tones, was not registered with Maritime Security Center Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) for their recent transit through the IRTC but they had reported to UKMTO.

It is understood that a Russian warship is heading towards the hijacked position. EU NAVFOR continues to monitor the situation.

According to the world's anti-piracy organization, the International Maritime Bureau, Somali pirates attacked ships 217 times in 2009, up from 111 attacks in 2008.

Crews have been successfully repelling more attacks, making it harder for pirates to capture ships and earn multi-million-dollar ransoms.

But the pirates have responded more violently. The IBM says only seven ships were fired upon worldwide in 2004, whereas 114 ships were fired upon last year off the Somali coast alone.