Monday, September 6, 2010

New Pirate Hot Spot As Attacks On Shipping Escalate

Japanese Tanker Latest Victim in New Spate of Assaults
Shipping News Feature

INDONESIA – BANGLADESH - It seems that there has been an alarming rise in pirate attacks in the South China Sea region with the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre saying there have now been 27 attacks since February. Constant news of kidnappings and robberies from the Gulf of Aden has rather overshadowed the fact that the seas around Indonesia have traditionally been dangerous for bulk and container shipping passing through.

In the early hours of Sunday morning a gang armed with guns and knives boarded a Japanese chemical tanker en route to China in the waters off Mangkai island which lies adjacent to the major shipping lane. This is possibly a robbery by the same gang who reportedly robbed another vessel last Wednesday in the same area when a gang of six pirates, armed with guns, knives and steel rods, boarded a ship underway and held the crew hostage before robbing them of cash plus personal and ship’s property.

The IMB state this brings the number of attacks in the area to ten in less than three weeks. The problems of the region are rarely highlighted these days with the eyes of the world turned toward Somalia but on Saturday another vessel at anchor of Chittagong, Bangladesh was robbed by criminals in two small boats who showered the crew with rocks before boarding armed with knives and stealing ship’s stores. The crew say nobody responded to their radio reports and requests for help from the local authorities.