Earlier this week the tanker Aris 13 was hijacked off the Somalian coast by pirates seeking to obtain a ransom from the operator of the vessel. According to IMO information, this was the first time that Somalian pirates have hijacked a vessel since the tanker Smyrni was attacked in May 2012. IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim has urged the shipping industry to apply diligently IMO guidance and best management practices to avert possible piracy attacks.
“While we have seen a very welcome decline in piracy off Somalia since the last reported hijack by Somali pirates in 2012, the reality is that piracy off the coast of Somalia has not been eradicated and the underlying conditions have not changed,” said Lim.
Mark Dickinson, Nautilus International’s general secretary, said the International Maritime Bureau had warned that “a single successful hijacking of a merchant vessel will rekindle the Somali pirates’ desire to resume their piracy efforts’”. He also said that the diversion of EU Navfor assets to the Mediterranean in response to the migrant crisis may have been a factor in the successful attack on Aris 13.
Gerry Northwood OBE, chief operating officer at MAST, the maritime risk management consultancy, and a former Royal Navy counter-piracy commander, voiced similar concern: "With the political situation in Somalia and the increasing confidence of those transiting through the western Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden, it was very likely that such an attack was going to occur.
“Those who orchestrated the attack would have been acutely aware of the decreasing military presence in the area and the increasing numbers of ships which are not sufficiently capable of defending themselves against a hijack.”