Pirates boarded a Suezmax oil tanker able to carry 1 million barrels of crude, which would be the largest vessel seized in more than a year.
“They are on board the vessel with guns,” Ody Valatsas, chartering manager at ship owner Dynacom Tankers Management Ltd. in Athens, said by e-mail, declining to comment further. The ship is the Smyrni, he said.
The vessel was 15.8 meters (52 feet) deep in the water after calling at a loading terminal in Turkey, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. A tanker of the same size was hijacked at 12:30 p.m. local time 430 miles northeast of Yemen’s Socotra Island, Jacqueline Sherriff, a European Union Naval Force spokeswoman, said by phone.
Pirates mounted 102 attacks worldwide last quarter, the International Maritime Bureau said last month. About 3,500 Somali pirates are attacking vessels off Africa’s eastern coast, the United Nations said in February. Ransoms worth $160 million were paid to release 31 hijacked vessels in 2011, according to a One Earth Future Foundation report.
The seized tanker is the largest vessel to be hijacked since February 2011, according to Sherriff and the IMB.
A smaller Aframax tanker escaped yesterday from pirates armed with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47 assault rifles off the Somali coast, Cyrus Mody, spokesman for the IMB, said by phone today. The pirates fired seven RPGs and 300 bullets, according to the London-based group tracking incidents.
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