Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Somalia Pirates Biggest Haul Yet

Pirates off the coast of Kenya have hijacked the MV Sirius Star, a 'super tanker' with 2 million barrels of oil on board.

According to BBC News, it is thought to be the biggest ship that has been hijacked by pirates so far.

The ship was boarded at the weekend, and it is thought to have taken less than 16 minutes for the pirates to take control of the ship.

There are currently 25 crew members still on board, two of which are Britons.

Earlier today, negotiations with the pirates started, and Vela International, who are leading the negotiations, have stated that all crew members are safe.

The ship is classified as a VLCC (very large cude carrier) and is owned by the Saudi oil company, Saudi Aramco.


Pirates are not people you expect to exist in the modern-day world, and are usually relagated to children's stories and blockbuster films.

It seems that as technology has advanced for the world, so has the equipment that the pirates carry also advanced.

It is being reported that instead of swords and cannons, the pirates were armed with rifles and grenade launchers; and instead of a wooden ship with a skull and crossbones flag, they arrived in speedboats.

Biggest Yet

The super tanker is over 330 metres long, or around 1,080 feet, which is as long as an aircraft carrier. Its total depth is around 31 metres.

The ship can carry up to 2 million barrels of oil, and it is though that the cargo the MV Sirius Star was carrying is worth around $100 million.

The boat was owned by Vela International, the group that are dealing with the current negotiations, and was one of 19 other VLCC's.

On board were 25 crew members, and apart from the 2 Britons there were sailors from the Phillippines, Poland, Croatia and Saudia Arabia.

Impossible Attack

You would think that an attack on a ship this large would be impossible, especially from a small group of pirates.

However, none of the crew were armed with anything that they could have used to combat the pirates, and it is not common practice to take security members as crew on baord ship such as these.

Talking to Sky News, the US Navy said that they 'have been warning shipping companies to do more to protect their vessels and their crew but to no avail'.

Once the ship was fully loaded, the depth from deck to sea level would have been around 3.5 metres, which would have made climbing up the side of the boat simple, and possible in a matter of seconds.

The ship was also much further north of the area that is being patrolled by anti-piracy ships, around the Gulf of Aden, and therefore lacked protection. This report gives an insight into what pirates look for in a ship.


Despite this incident being the first major piracy attack that has hit the headlines, it seems that piracy is actually a common occurrence, especially around the Gulf of Aden.

According to this website, there were over 200 recorded attacks last year, and this year the number has already reached 199. And that's only the reported attacks.

After an incident like this where everyone is waiting to hear what will happen to the boat and the crew, it begs the question, will security on board boats this size soon become a neccessity instead of a luxury?

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