Salalah Hijack Takes Attacks To New Level

Pirates attacked a Saudi chemtanker 50 miles off the coast of Oman on Sunday within hours of the seizure of an Anglo-Eastern managed vessel only two miles out of Salalah, it emerged yesterday, writes Colum Murphy in Hong Kong .

The Saudi ship involved has been named as the 1985-built, 44,987 dwt Al Balad , which the Lloyd’s List Intelligence database associates with a Marshall Islands-registered company Red Sea Shipping . The registered owner is given as Jeddah-based Al Mubarakah International Navigation .

Meanwhile, Saturday saw the capture of a US-owned chemical oil tanker with a crew of 21 Indian nationals on board while the vessel was anchored two miles off the Omani port of Salalah .

On Monday evening, shipmanager Anglo-Eastern Ship Management confirmed the vessel had arrived in Somali waters, just north of Bandar Beyla. The master of the ship had been in contact with Anglo-Eastern and had confirmed the crew was safe, a statement from Anglo-Eastern said.

“We are still waiting to make first contact with the hijackers,” a spokeswoman for Anglo-Eastern told Lloyd’s List.

The Marshall Islands-flagged, 2010-built 25,390 dwt Fairchem Bogey ’s beneficial owner is Fairfield-Maxwell of the US, according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence.

Anglo-Eastern has set up three support in India to support family members of the crew.

The seizure represents a bold new departure for Somali pirates who have tended to hijack ships in international waters.

The ship was empty at the time and preparing to load methanol when it was attacked at 0500 hrs, according to APM Terminals, the port operator.

“The Port of Salalah is working closely and co-operating with Omani authorities to support their efforts investigating this incident,” a spokesman forAPM Terminals said.

“We have informed our customers and vessels in the area to be aware of the situation and take precautionary security measures.”

The Port of Salalah is 20% owned by the government of Oman, while AP Moller-Maersk holds 30% through its unit APM Terminals. The remaining shares are held by institutional and private investors.

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