Kuala Lumpur: The ICC Commercial Crime Services’ International Maritime Bureau (IMB) is warning small tankers to maintain strict anti-piracy measures in the South China Sea following a spate of tanker hijackings in the region.
At least six known cases of coastal tankers being hijacked for their cargoes of diesel or gas oil have been reported since April this year, sparking fears of a new trend in pirate attacks in the area. Up until then, the majority of attacks in the region were boarding’s for petty theft.
The latest hijackings seem to follow a specific modus operandi, where armed pirates seize a small tanker and siphon off its cargo to large bunker barges or other small tankers in a ship-to-ship operation, the IMB noted. In some cases navigational equipment are destroyed but the crew are left unhurt. They then release the hijacked vessels.
“These types of incidents are not common in this region which makes the situation even more alarming”, said the IMB. It has issued a warning to all ships that these attacks have occurred against small coastal tankers primarily in the South China Sea waters off Bintan and Bintulu islands.
“The pirates appear to be interested in oil products such as diesel oil. One of the hijacked tankers was released quickly possibly because the pirates realised it had the wrong type of cargo,” noted the IMB.
The IMB advises all ships, but particularly small tankers, to maintain strict anti-piracy measures and vessels are advised to monitor the IMB PRC satellite broadcast warnings via InMARSAT C EGC Safety Net and to report all attacks and suspicious sightings to the IMB-PRC. [18/06/14]