The Combined Task Force 151 (CTF151) has decided to stop pursuing Somali pirates who captured a Liberian-flagged tanker carrying about 135,000 tonnes of crude oil for PTT Plc in the Gulf of Eden on Thursday after receiving a report that the pirates have taken the tanker to the Somali coast and demanded a ransom, a navy source said.
The source, citing information from Thai navy officers operating with CTF151, said the task force, commanded by Rear Adm Thanin Likitwong of the Thai navy, could not take action to retake the tanker because in doing so it needed the consent of its owner, the owners of the crude oil and their insurance company.
The tanker, MT Smyrni, is owned by Dynacom Tankers Management of Greece.
“More importantly, the vessel has no citadel for the crew to hide in safety and no armed guards. Therefore, it would not be safe for the 26 crew members if an operation is launched to retake the tanker,” the source said.
None of the crew was Thai.
The source said when the tanker was attacked by the pirates it was about 800km from the Somali coast in an area in which there were no battleships.
Fort Victoria, a CTF151 ship with 16 Thai navy officers on board, followed the tanker from a distance but took no action due to concerns for the crew’s safety.
The pirates have contacted the tanker’s owner and the insurance company is expected to quickly negotiate with them because the 135,000 tonnes of oil belongs to many firms including PTT Plc of Thailand.
This article was posted by Neptune Maritime Security via bangkokpost.com. MaritimeSecurity.Asia in cooperation with www.neptunemaritimesecurity.com