Report: Somali pirates strike again, hijacking tanker off Horn of Africa

A Panama-flagged chemical tanker has been reportedly attacked by Somali pirates off the Horn of Africa.

The incident, which occurred 180 nautical miles southwest of Socotra, would be the first successful hijack in Somali waters since 2017, maritime intelligence provider Dryad Global said.

The vessel, identified at the 8,100 dwt Aegean II, was allegedly hijacked by six armed pirates on late 16 August 2020 after having suffered engine issues.

“We are looking into the details of the incident. Our assets are currently in the area investigating,” a spokesperson for European Union Naval Force Somalia, Operation Atalanta, told Offshore Energy, unable to confirm the incident at present.

The tanker was en route from the UAE to Mogadishu with 20 crew members on board at the time of the incident, Reuters reported.

“It is likely that the vessel slowed giving attackers ‘eyes on’ the vessel, and the ability to plan an opportunistic attack. The vessel was indicating that Armed Guards were embarked however this is not believed to be the case,” according to Dryad.

“The vessel then resumed operational status, however a window of opportunity of slowed transit speed had been created which was subsequently exploited by a piratical group.”

The pirates appeared to have links to a local militia functioning as Somali police, Reuters cited an unnamed regional security official as saying.

The incident so far appears to be an isolated and opportunistic one as it had transited in the vicinity of Somali territorial waters, Dryad added.

What is more, the vessel seizure might be considered as an “an act of maritime crime”, not piracy, Dryad said, referring to intelligence sources.

Built in 1994, Aegean II is owned by Greece-based shipping company Aegean Shipping/Aegean Marine, data provided by VesselsValue shows.

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