Rome: Pirates using guns and rocket propelled grenades hijacked an Italian oil tanker in the Indian Ocean on Tuesday, Italian Navy and European Union officials said, adding the medium-sized ship was heading towards Somalia.
“It is heading west, in the direction of Somalia,” Commander Paddy O’Kennedy, spokesman for the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) told Reuters.
The attack on the Savina Caylyn took place some 500 miles off the coast of India and some 800 miles off Somalia, an Italian Navy spokesman said earlier, adding that no-one among the crew of 17 Indians and five Italians was reported hurt.
An Italian navy frigate was heading to the scene but was some 600 miles away.
“This is what we expected at this stage,“O’Kennedy said of the ship heading towards Somalia.
The Aframax-type tanker can carry a maximum of just over 700,000 barrels of oil with a maximum cargo value estimated at $63 million. The largest crude tankers carry maximum cargoes of between 2 to 3 million barrels of oil.
In the past Somali pirates have hijacked ships and held their cargo and crew for ransom.
O’Kennedy added that the anti-piracy task force was monitoring the movement of the ship but was no longer in direct contact with the vessel.
“The last communication was when the pirates were on board and then we lost all contact,” he said.
EUNAVFOR said the vessel was boarded early on Tuesday morning after a sustained attack by one skiff with five pirates firing small arms and four rocket propelled grenades.
The ship is carrying a load of crude for the Arcadia commodities trading company. It was sailing from the Bashayer Oil Terminal in Sudan and was destined for Pasir Gudang port in Malaysia, according to Reuters Freight Views.