The EU anti-piracy operation in the Horn of Africa region said that Pirates are demanding a ransom for the release of the Comoros-flagged oil tanker Aris 13 seized off the coast of Somalia and the crew is being held captive, the AP reported.
An EU naval force statement said the operation had finally made contact with the ship’s master, who confirmed that armed men were onboard the 1,800 dwt ship.
The reported seizure Monday of the ship, which was the first such seizure of a large commercial vessel off Somalia since 2012, came as a surprise to the global shipping industry as patrols by the navies of NATO countries, as well as China, India and Iran, had suppressed Somali pirate hijackings for several years.
However, the United Nations warned in October that the situation was fragile and that Somali pirates “possess the intent and capability to resume attacks”. One expert said some in the region had let down their guard as the situation calmed. Nato ended its anti-piracy mission off Somalia in December.
Reuters said data from its systems showed the ship made a sharp turn just after it passed the Horn of Africa on its voyage from Djibouti
The news agency said it was told by John Steed of the organization "Oceans Beyond Piracy," the Aris 13 sent a distress call on Monday, turned off its tracking system, and altered course for the Somali port town of Alula.
Piracy off Somalia’s coast was once a serious threat to the global shipping industry. But it has lessened in recent years after an international effort to patrol near the country, whose weak central government has been trying to assert itself after a quarter-century of conflict.