August 19, 2014: Recently there was another piracy incident near the Malacca Strait. On July 15th pirates boarded the MT Oriental Glory, an 85 meter (276 feet) long tanker going from Singapore to Borneo with a valuable cargo; 2,500 tons of marine (for ship engines) diesel.
The cargo was worth over two million dollars and the pirates got it all. The small tanker was missing for several days because the pirates had someone with them who knew how to disable the communications systems and disable the engines. The pirates apparently had another tanker or barge standing by to offload the marine diesel. The pirates also looted the ship of any portable valuables but simply locked up the crew of fifteen. Three crewmen were slightly injured during the nighttime takeover. This was the ninth such pirate attack since April and police believe it is the same gang. These pirates are well organized, apparently research their targets carefully and use competent people to board the target ships at night and quickly overwhelm the crew. These pirates are armed but disciplined and don’t fire unless they have to. The pirates know that as long as they don’t kill anyone there will not be a major police effort to hunt them down.
This sort of thing is part of a pattern that evolved even before an international effort to suppress Somali piracy succeeded in the last few years. While the Somali piracy was being suppressed there was a major increase in attacks in the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea. Big as in a sevenfold increase from 2009 to 2013 (when there were 150 attacks). There was also a jump (to 50 attacks a year) off Nigeria. What made Somalia so special was the fact that that ships and crews could be taken and held for ransom for long periods. Everywhere else the pirates were usually only interested in robbing the crew and stealing anything portable that they could get into their small boats. Off the Nigerian coast pirates occasionally take some ship officers with them to hold for ransom.
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