Pirates hijack vessel off Oman coast

A maritime security alert has been issued for the Arabian Sea after a merchant vessel, MV Royal Grace, was reportedly hijacked in position 21:27N - 062:37E approximately 150NM off Oman on March 2, reports GAC Protective Solutions.

The hijack was only confirmed after the vessel communicated with the owners stating her position on 4 March. Her last known position was 17:12N - 060:28E at 0255 local time on 4 March.

Operators are advised to proceed with extreme caution in the vicinity of the attack as the attack group could still be in the area, and more generally when transiting within 180-200NM off Oman's southern coast which has seen an increase in pirate activity in recent weeks.

According to the Equasis data base, the 6,813 dwt, Panama-flagged, Royal Grace was built in 1984 as a Chemical/Oil Products Tanker and is managed by Oyster Cargo & Shipping LLC. The owner is Snow Whyte Energy Ltd., which uses the same Dubai address as the manager.

In the last 36 months, 50 percent of the vessel's Port State Control inspections have resulted in detentions.

NATO DAILY UPDATE:

NATO said today that there has been an increase of piracy related activity over the past two weeks in the High Risk Area (HRA), especially off the coast of Oman. At 1201Z on 03 March 12, a merchant vessel sighted a suspicious group of skiffs in the vicinity of 2127N 06237E . One of the skiffs followed the merchant vessel for approximately 2 hours despite the merchant vessel taking evasive action. (NSC Alert 10/12)

Pirate Attack Groups (PAGs) are confirmed as operating off the Omani coast. 02 March 12 a merchant vessel approximately was pirated 150NM NE of Masirah (Oman) coast at position 1634N 05948E. (Alert 18/12)

The Bab-el Mandeb (BAM) remains an area of concern as a merchant vessel was fired upon by 2 white skiffs on 28 February 12, in position 12 34N 043 30E. (NSC 09/12) Masters are reminded that a large number of fishing vessels operate in the Southern Red Sea (SRS). Fishing vessels may approach a merchant ship in order to maximise fishing opportunities and to warn vessels from getting too close to the fishing nets. Masters are requested to ensure they distinguish between fishing vessels and potential pirates; fishermen may carry small arms.

March 5, 2012