Bloomberg News

Pirates Posed as ‘Authorities’ to Attack Tanker, Owner Says

July 22, 2011

(Updates with results of independent surveyor’s report in third paragraph.)

July 22 (Bloomberg) -- Pirates posed as “authorities” to attack the oil tanker Brillante Virtuoso off the coast of Yemen earlier this month, the vessel’s owner said.

Gunmen boarded and took control of the tanker while it was anchored, ordering the crew to start the engine and sail to Somalia, Suez Fortune Investments Ltd., the vessel’s owner, said in a statement distributed by MTI Network today. It didn’t say what kind of authorities the attackers pretended to be.

An independent surveyor’s report found no evidence of rocket-propelled grenade damage to the vessel as earlier reported, according to the statement. The engine of the 274- meter (900-foot) tanker carrying 1 million barrels of fuel oil caught fire overnight between July 5 and July 6 near the port of Aden in a maritime corridor that handles 20 percent of world trade.

The vessel was waiting for unarmed guards to get on board when it came under attack, according to the statement. After ransacking the bridge, accommodation and engine room “the pirates then departed the vessel with threats of reprisals should there be any moves against them,” the statement said.

Attacks on ships by Somali pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, an area as large as Europe, rose to a record in 2011’s first half, the International Maritime Organization, the United Nations’ shipping agency said yesterday. Piracy costs the global economy an estimated $7 billion to $12 billion a year, the IMO said.

--Editors: Sharon Lindores, John Deane

To contact the reporter on this story: Michelle Wiesebockmann in London at mwiesebockma@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alaric Nightingale at anightingal1@bloomberg.net


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