Somali Pirates Thwarted In New Year's Day Hijack

Uh-oh, the tide may be turning. Pirates, it may be time to call in reinforcements.

DNA:  An Indian oil tanker with 40 crew narrowly escaped from the clutches of Somali pirates on Thursday when a Malaysian navy chopper foiled a hijacking bid.

“This was the New Year’s gift to the owners of the Indian tanker. If the Malaysian warship had not arrived on the scene their tanker would have been hijacked,” International Maritime Bureau chief Noel Choong said.

Choong said seven heavily-armed pirates on two speed boats opened fire on the Indian tanker heading towards Suez Canal early in the morning (9 am IST) but sped away after a Malaysian frigate dispatched a helicopter to rescue the vessel. No one was injured in the incident in which pirates dressed in military attire raked the tanker’s bridge and accommodation bunks with machine gun and automatic fire. On spotting the helicopter, the pirates stopped firing and fled. The Malaysian helicopter did not fire at the pirates’ speed boats.

The Indian tanker carrying full load of oil was heading towards Suez Canal when it was attacked. The captain sent an SOS which was received by the Malaysian frigate KD Inderasakti, 15 nautical miles away. The frigate dispatched a light military helicopter within minutes. The Indian ship later followed the Malaysian frigate’s convoy.

“The attack on the mid-sized 92687-tonne tanker was the first pirate attack in the Gulf of Aden in 2009,” Choong said.

This has been the second time the Malaysian navy has come to the rescue of distressed vessels facing pirate attacks in the African waters. Earlier last month a Chinese vessel was saved by the Malaysian navy from pirates.

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