In an incident which observers fear may be an indication of a dangerous trend towards escalation of piracy on the high seas, the oil tanker MT Fairchem Bogey was hijacked while at anchor off the Salalah coast of Oman this past Saturday.
No Safe Place Left
Piracy of merchant ships has been a growing problem for businesses which rely on sea transport for the delivery of their goods. Until now, however, ships were considered to be safe while anchored adjacent to ports. With this latest incident in Oman the feeling among those involved in sea trade is that there may be no safe place left for ships.
On Saturday the pirates, who are believed to be Somali nationals, boarded the MT Fairchem, took the crew of 21 Indian nationals hostage, and forced the crew to sail the ship to an unnamed island off the coast of Somalia.
The director general of shipping, Satish Agnihotri said,
“Earlier, pirates were found to carry out attacks on ships sailing in the high seas but now we find that even at places near the port or the coast, where ships are anchored and considered safe by seafarers, pirates are fearlessly carrying out attacks. It could be the first such case but is very alarming. Despite deployment of forces in the high seas, pirates are not stopping their operations and are going a step ahead by carrying out attacks like this one.”
Watching Ship’s Movements
The Anglo Ship Management Private Limited, the ship management company of the MT Fairchem, informed the Directorate General (DG) of Shipping of the hijacking on Saturday. The DG in turn brought the incident to the attention of several maritime security services, such as the Navy, Coast Guard and special forces, as well as the navies of other nations. There has been an international call for various agencies and countries to close observe the movements of the ship and constantly keep watch on the vessel’s trajectory.
“We have information about where the pirates are taking the vessel to but they cannot be intercepted until they reach their destination as they have 21 crew members hostage and their life could be under threat. We are waiting once they reach their destination and then start communication from their side so that negotiations and talks could be done for the release of the captured vessel and crew members,” said Agnihotri.