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Tanker hijacked by Somalis did not follow piracy procedures

The shipowner of the hijacked Aris 13 product tanker has been slammed for cutting corners and subsequently endangering the lives of eight crewmembers. On Monday, the product tanker became the first ship to be nabbed by Somali pirates since 2012, news that has sent shockwaves around the world’s seafaring community.

According to aid group Oceans Beyond Piracy the ship, owned by Armi Shipping from the United Arab Emirates, was preparing to go through a route known as the Socotra Gap, between Somalia and Socotra Island which vessels often use, regardless of the piracy risks, to save time and cost.

“This attack reinforces the need for vessels to follow shipping industry Best Management Practices within the BMP specified High Risk Area,” Oceans Beyond Piracy said.

Two skiffs with armed men boarded the ship, shoved the eight Sri Lankan seafarers into a room, cut communications and took the ship to Alula off the coast of Puntland where they are now demanding a ransom to free the crew.

International Maritime Organization (IMO) secretary-general Kitack Lim has urged shipping to follow piracy guidelines when transiting anywhere near Somalia with fears that this first attack could spur other piracy attempts.

“While we have seen a very welcome decline in piracy off Somalia since the last reported hijack by Somali pirates in 2012, the reality is that piracy off the coast of Somalia has not been eradicated and the underlying conditions have not changed. Merchant shipping should continue to take protective measures against possible piracy attacks in the Gulf of Aden and the western Indian Ocean through diligent application of IMO guidance and Best Management Practices,” Lim said.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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