Frigate shadowing captured tanker

After the much-publicised kidnapping of Paul and Rachel Chandler, a British couple, from their yacht some weeks ago, Somali pirates have today seized a huge tanker carrying crude oil from Saudi Arabia to the United States.

The Greek-flagged Maran Centaurus was hijacked yesterday morning about 800 miles (1,300km) off the coast of Somalia, near the Seychelles. A Greek coastguard official said that the ship and its 28 crew had been taken by a group of about nine armed pirates.

The ship is now being shadowed by a Greek naval frigate taking part in the EU’s anti-piracy operation in the region.

The shipping intelligence company Lloyd’s List said the Maran Centaurus is a “very large crude carrier, with a capacity of over 300,000 tonnes”. Officials could not immediately say how many barrels of oil were on board.

Pirates have increased attacks on vessels off East Africa for the millions in ransoms that can be earned, successfully hijacking dozens of ships in the past few years. Yesterday’s attack appeared to be only the second ever on an oil tanker and raised fears that the vessel could leak oil if it crashed or ran aground – or was the focus of a firefight.

Full story at Times Online

Download the Cruising Association’s September 2009 article on Piracy