MUMBAI: A cargo ship with 11 Indian crew members on board has been hijacked by pirates off the Somalian coast, officials from the Directorate General of Shipping said on Monday.
“It is not a big ship but a dhow. It was hijacked yesterday and is now sailing towards the shore of Somalia,” DGS Malini Shankar said.
United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), which coordinates the management of all merchant ships and yachts in the Gulf of Aden area, said on Monday it had received information that a vessel en route to Bosasso from Dubai had been hijacked “in the vicinity of Socotra (Island)”.
The Indian-flagged ship was on a voyage from Dubai to Yemen when it was hijacked, she said, adding that it had 11 Indian crew members on board.Shankar said the pirates are interested in the cargo on the ship and have not put forward a ransom demand so far, adding that the details of the cargo are not known yet.
Somali pirates hijacked an oil tanker last month, the first commandeering of a vessel since 2012, but released it after a fight with the Puntland marine force. Somalis have been angered recently by foreign fishermen flooding into their waters, some of whom have been given licences to fish there by the Somali government.
Graeme Gibbon-Brooks of UK-based Dryad Maritime Security said industry sources had told him the Indian vessel was en route to Bosasso from Dubai when it was hijacked on Saturday.
In a separate incident that highlights increased pirate activity, UKMTO said on its website that early on Monday, six skiffs had approached a vessel and that ladders and hooks were sighted.The vessel raised alarm, prompting armed guards to take position and the skiffs left, leaving the vessel unharmed, UKTMO said.
There is a possibility of the vessel being released without the cargo once it reaches the shore this evening, she said. Instances of Somali pirates striking+ have come down considerably over the past few years, helping India convince the insurance bodies to do away with a high-risk premium the trade was paying.