Fourth incident in area this month
Singapore based piracy monitoring centre ReCAAP ISC reports that the Indian registered Crude Oil Tanker Guru Gobind Singh was attacked on the evening of 25 Nov 10 just 336 nautical miles off Mormugao, Goa. The 274-metre vessel’s hull and superstructure was left riddled with bullets before the pirates abandoned the attack thanks to some quick thinking by the Master. Indian military planes and surface vessels are now reportedly scouring the area trying to find any trace of the pirate mother vessel and to thwart any further attacks. There have been four pirate incidents in the general area this month alone.
The information centre of ReCAAP has put up an incident report on its website, confirming that the Guru Gobind Singh was attacked at about 1640 hours on the 25th of November in position 14° 52' N, 068° 00'E (see map), when “one small skiff with about seven pirates approached the vessel from her stern. Realising the threat, the Master immediately raised general alarm and took action in accordance with the industry's BMP including increasing speed and carrying out zigzag manoeuvres. Armed with guns, the pirates approached the vessel from her starboard quarter and fired at the vessel causing some bullet scars on the hull. The shipmaster immediately manoeuvred to take the pirate skiff on the windward side thus making it roll vigorously, compelling the pirates to reduce speed and finally move away from the tanker towards the mother vessel, which was seen on the starboard beam at a speed of 8.9 knots. The crew was not injured.”
Another website, marinetraffic.com, says that the Guru Gobind Singh is due to arrive at Ras Tanura on Tuesday. The 147495 DWT Guru Gobind Singh is a 1995 built crude oil tanker owned by the Shipping Corporation of India, which is due to come out with a follow on public offer tomorrow, Nov 30, as the Government of India plans to divest a ten percent stake in the giant.
ReCAAP has also confirmed that the pirates are operating from a mother vessel, suspected to be the MT Polar, hijacked on October 30 about six hundred miles from Socotra in the Somali basin. It is assumed that the pirates are capable of launching further attacks in the near future. The ReCAAP ISC has advised all vessels to exercise extreme caution within a hundred miles of the position where the Guru Gobind Singh was attacked.
No doubt, the Master and crew of the Guru Gobind Singh need to be commended for their courage. The fact remains, however, that repeated incidents of pirate attacks along the Indian western coastline- from off Mumbai southwards and alarmingly close to the Indian coast- raise extremely serious concerns about the security of our coastline, ships and our maritime trade. One is surprised that there has been no follow up of any of these incidents in the mainstream media.