Nigerian Pirates Hijack Vessel

Tanker master seized off Nigeria, as pirate attacks double

Gunmen seized a tanker master and chief engineer off Nigeria on Monday evening, Lloyds List reports.

The product tanker, 2005-built 4,037 dwt Aleyna Mercan operated by Istanbul-based shipping company MRC and flagged in the Marshall Islands was on charter to Total.

The nationalities of the two victims are not yet known, although they are understood to be Turkish.

Pirate attacks have doubled in the first quarter of 2009 from a year ago, a new report publised in Tradewinds shows.

The International Maritime Bureau report also notes an increase in the use of violence against crew.

Pirate activity is now almost entirely centred in the Gulf of Aden and the east coast of Somalia.

Nigeria is the second favourite for the pirate gangs, with seven incidents and unconfirmed reports of another 13 during the quarter, the majority of which were on offshore ships.

A total of 102 attacks took place around the world in the opening three months of the year, up from 53 in the corresponding period a year ago. The figure is also one fifth higher than in the final quarter of 2008.

Two crew members were killed, nine injured and five kidnapped, the report says. A total of 178 seafarers were held hostage.

IMB figures show 34 vessels were boarded during the first quarter, while 29 came under fire and nine were successfully hijacked.

Of the 41 incidents in the Gulf of Aden, five resulted in the vessel being captured, a success rate of one in eight, the IMB says. This compares to one in three in the previous three months.

The IMB attributes the falling success rate of pirates to the presence of the navies, vessels using the transit corridors and the measures captains are now taking to prevent their vessels from being boarded.

Peru also saw attacks rise from four to seven year-on-year, all of which were successful, the IMB says. All of the vessels were boarded while at anchor.

An increase in patrols has, however, achieved some success in the Malacca Straits with only one reported incident during the quarter, compared with five a year ago.

Piracy also fell off the Bangladeshi coast, with only one attack, down from three a year ago.