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Friday, April 08, 2005

Oil Pirates

KUALA LUMPUR: A gang of pirates attempted to board a huge Japanese-owned crude oil tanker in the Singapore Strait in the latest of a series of attacks on the region’s strategically important shipping lanes, a maritime official said yesterday.
“Pirates in seven small fishing boats surrounded the tanker and attempted to board it late on Tuesday,” said Noel Choong, head of the Piracy Reporting Centre of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).
The 150,000 tonne Yohteisan was on an east-bound journey in heavy rain and poor visibility when the incident occurred off Indonesia’s Karimun islands, where the southern tip of the Malacca Strait joins the Singapore Strait.
Choong said the captain of the Panama-registered tanker took evasive measures and increased speed to escape the attackers.
All the crew members were safe and the tanker continued on its journey, he said, adding that a successful boarding of a tanker of this size in the narrow sea lane could have had disastrous consequences.
“Anything could have happened. Singapore of course will take this attack seriously,” Choong said. – AFP
Like the dog who finally caught the car, I wonder what the pirates were going to do with the tanker. I imagine that the getaway possibilities in something that big and that slow would be nearly nil. If they were terrorists, wouldn't they be able to damage or sink the tanker Cole-style without trying to board? Maybe they envisioned some sort of hostage situation--give us $100 million or we blow up the ship, the crew, and the oil.

Oh well, I can't figure out the intentions of the pirates who boarded our nation four years ago.