Written by Charitha Fernando
14 Mar, 2017 | 4:49 pm
The oil tanker allegedly hijacked Tuesday by suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia consists of a crew of 8 Sri Lankans, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs releasing a statement said.
Citing initial reports, the ministry said “while the vessel involved is not registered under a Sri Lankan flag, it has a 8 member Sri Lankan crew,” The ministry statement stands in contrast to foreign media reports that said the vessel was a “Sri Lankan-flagged oil tanker” The Foreign Ministry said it is taking action to verify the alleged incident and is in touch with shipping agents and relevant Sri Lankan Missions overseas to acquire further information and to ensure the safety of the crew.
“As and when confirmed information regarding the alleged incident becomes available, the Ministry will share information in a manner that would not be prejudicial to the safety of the crew,” the statement further said.
According to foreign media reports, the incident is the first successful hijacking of a commercial vessel by suspected Somali pirates since 2012. The 1,800 ton vessel named Aris 13 had sent a distress call on Monday before turning its tracking system off and altering its course for the Somali port town of Alula, Reuters quoting an official from the Oceans Beyond Piracy aid group said.
Aircraft from EU Navfor, an European Union Naval Force deployed in the seas off Horn of Africa and Western Indian Ocean is trying to track the ship and ascertain what was happening, media reports said.
Preliminary data has shown the vessel making a sharp turn after it passed the Horn of Africa on its voyage from Djibouti to Mogadishu.
Aris 13 is owned by Panama company Armi Shipping and managed by Aurora Ship Management in the United Arab Emirates, according to the Equasis shipping data website, managed by the French transport ministry.
According to the International Maritime Bureau, Somali pirates launched 237 attacks on vessels off the coast of Somalia and held hundreds of crew members hostage. In 2011 the global cost of piracy was estimated to be around $ 7 billion.
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