"Pirates fire at UASC ship
Continued social and political upheaval in Somalia is continuing to impact on the shipping industry as a United Arab Shipping-owned vessel is attacked far off the African country’s coast. The 23,800-dwt Ibn Younus (built 1977) came under fire from pirates wielding rocket grenade launchers and machine guns 180 miles off the Somali coast on Monday.
Three men in a boat initially approached the Qatar-flagged general cargo ship and ordered it to stop. When it failed to do so the men opened machine-gun fire towards the bridge. The ship’s emergency alarm was raised and it came under rocket grenade fire which caused substantial damage to the crew’s cabins. After a chase lasting an hour the UASC vessel managed to lose the pirates with no injuries reported.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has issued a warning to all vessels sailing in international waters off Somalia but not calling at the country. It has advised all such vessels to stay at least 200 nautical miles off the Somali coast due to the “violent attacks”. The Kuwaiti-owned ship was on its way from Durban to the port of Jebel Ali in Dubai. Incidents of piracy off Somalia have risen alarmingly over the past few months with an unnamed UAE-owned vessel seized 10 miles off Mogadishu last week.
A recent report by the IMB indicated that, although piracy attacks worldwide fell by a third in the first quarter this year, Somalia and Nigeria continued to be plagued by such attacks. In April pirates in Somalia freed two vessels, one of which was hijacked six weeks previously, after ransoms were reportedly paid, while UAE-owned vessels have come in for some particularly rough treatment at Mogadishu port. The use of grenade launchers in the latest attack recalls the attack by pirates on the 9,975-gt cruise ship Seabourn Spirit (built 1989) off the Somali coast in November 2005."