Friday, June 2, 2017

Armed Pirates Attack Navig8 Tanker in Gulf of Oman

Spanish warship ESPS Galicia, part of EU NAVFOR, patrols off the coast of Somalia. File photo: EU NAVFOR

Armed pirates aboard a skiff attacked an oil tanker underway in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, but the attack was repelled when the ship's security team returned fire, officials have confirmed.

The International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Centre, which was first to report the incident, said six persons armed with guns in a skiff approached and fired upon a tanker underway approximately 103 nautical miles east of Muscat, Oman.

"The alarm raised and non-essential crew retreated to the citadel. Speed increased, evasive maneuvers conducted and onboard armed security team fired warning shots resulting in the skiffs moving away. A mother vessel was seen in the vicinity. Vessel is safe," the IMB report said.

The European Union Naval Force ATALANTA (EU NAVFOR) later confirmed the attack and identified the tanker as the MT NAVIG8 Providence, a 2016-built 74,000 DWT LR1 tanker belonging to Navig8 Group and flagged in the Marshall Islands. 

"It is understood that as the skiff moved towards the tanker, there was an exchange of small arms fire between the suspected pirates and the maritime security team on board the tanker," EU NAVFOR said.

In an email, the master of the MT NAVIG8 Providence reported that his ship's security team saw a ladder in the skiff, EU NAVFOR said.

Counter-piracy naval forces are coordinating a response to search for the skiff.

The attack is the second in as many days in the Horn of Africa region. On Wednesday, a different Marshall Islands-flagged tanker was fired upon by pirates armed with an RPG in a skiff while sailing in the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, connecting the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden.

Both attacks follow a string of recent pirate attacks off the coast Somalia and Yemen in recent months after years of calm. At least some of the attacks, however, have been attributed to the instability in Yemen rather than the return of Somali-based piracy. 

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