Headline News


Piracy situation grave off Somalia coast


Source: | 11-20-2008 14:48

The capture of the Saudi supertanker -- the Sirius Star -- off the coast of Somalia on Saturday has once again highlighted the severity of the piracy problem in the Gulf of Aden.

The capture of the Saudi supertanker -- the Sirius Star -- off the coast of Somalia on Saturday has once again highlighted the severity of the piracy problem in the Gulf of Aden.(
The capture of the Saudi supertanker -- the Sirius
Star -- off the coast of Somalia on Saturday has once
again highlighted the severity of the piracy problem
in the Gulf of Aden. (

The surge of piracy in waters off Somalia since early this year has become a thorny issue hampering international trade and security.

Gruelling negotiations are continuing for the release of the Saudi ship and its crew. Meanwhile, the international community is discussing ways to tackle the problem.

The Saudi supertanker is a brand new vessel with a 25-member crew. It was seized more than 450 nautical miles southeast of Mombasa.

It was the largest ship that pirates have seized so far in that area. The capture is also the farthest out to sea they have accomplished. The tanker's oil cargo alone is worth 100 million US dollars.

On Tuesday, an Iranian cargo vessel with a crew of 25 was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden. It was flying a Hong Kong flag but is operated by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines.

The International Maritime Bureau says since April, pirates operating off Somalia have launched 91 attacks, including 39 hijacks. Currently, pirates are holding 16 vessels in the area, with 314 crew members taken hostage.

Pottengal Mukundan, Captain of International Maritime Bureau, said, "The pirates have been operating with impunity in these waters, and it is time now, it is well overdue that we send a signal to the pirates that they cannot conduct these criminal operations without sanction."