Pirates Hijack Saudi Supertanker

By Matthew Harwood

In their most audacious attack yet, Somali pirates have hijacked a Saudi supertanker off the coast of Kenya, much farther from their base of operations in the Gulf of Aden than ever before, authorities reported Monday.

Reuters reports:

"This is unprecedented. It's the largest ship that we've seen pirated," said Lieutenant Nathan Christensen, a spokesman for the U.S. Fifth Fleet.

"It's three times the size of an aircraft carrier."The Sirius Star held a cargo of as much as two million barrels of oil -- more than one quarter of Saudi Arabia's daily production .... The hijacking, 450 nautical miles (830 km) southeast of Mombasa, Kenya, was in an area far beyond the Gulf of Aden, where most of the attacks on shipping have taken place.

Somali pirates have increasingly shown signs of getting bolder in their attacks and striking further afield.

U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet Commander Jane Campbell told CNN that the new attack means Somali pirates now roam 1.1 million square miles of seas, a indication of how lucrative piracy has become, she said.

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The capture of the Saudi supertanker comes at the end of a busy weekend for pirates. On Saturday, pirates captured a Japanese chemical tanker, taking 23 crew hostage, according to Voice of America (VOA). The hijacking occurred right after pirates released another Japanese chemical tanker. The ship's crew was not harmed.

Pirates still hold 11 ships, reports VOA, including a Ukranian cargo ship containing 33 Russian tanks that they captured in late September in the Gulf of Aden.

Security in the Gulf of Aden, however, has increased since a multinational force of warships carved out a narrow, guarded corridor for ships to safely pass through since August 22.

According to the Associated Press:

The multinational force created the shipping channel to better focus its patrols in the vast area. The zone is about 600 miles long and just three to six miles wide. It runs roughly north-south, allowing ships to safely bypass the Somali coast on their way to and from the Red Sea and the Suez Canal.

Ninety percent of all ships traveling through the area have used the guarded corridor; there have been no hijackings inside the security zone since its inception in late August.


Canadian Security Firm Fights Pirates:

Canadian Security Firm Fights Pirates:

CBC Radio: interview with a Pirate and with Sunil Ram
of Executive Security Services International:


Contact: Mr. Sunil Ram
Media Security Consultant

November 19, 2008

Canuck seamen seek security advice


TORONTO -- Canadian seamen and shipowners are looking at ways of warding off pirates in the dangerous waters along the coast of Somalia. And they're searching for answers in Huntsville, Ont.

The latest high seas seizure is a Hong Kong-registered Iranian cargo ship commandeered in the Gulf of Aden yesterday, just days after a Saudi supertanker was taken.

"I have been getting a steady stream of calls from concerned seamen," said Sunil Ram, of Executive Security Services International. "People want to know what they can do to ensure their safety," he said yesterday.

"We offer a range of services to help with their security."

Crews are advised to use high-pressure fire hoses to keep pirates from boarding vessels and to be equipped with floodlights and sirens and if necessary, armed security teams, he said.


"The rails of the ship should be greased and electrified to prevent pirates from boarding," Ram said.

Foreign Affairs in Ottawa said its embassy in Somalia has been closed and Canadians are being told to leave the country.

"The security situation in Somalia is very volatile," a government website says.

Sylvie LaFleur, of Canada Steamship Lines, one of the Canada's largest carriers, said its ships travel through the pirate-infested waters.

"We take many precautions to ensure the safety of our crew," LaFleur said.

Pirates last month seized a Ukrainian cargo ship that had on board tanks, rocket-propelled grenades and ammunition. Food shipments to the war-torn region are also being disrupted.

Sunil Ram
Director of Operations
Media Security Consultant
Security Training INstructor
TEL: 705.788.1957

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