Somali pirates hijack two vessels in Gulf of Aden
New Delhi: Another example of Sea pirate near Somalia. Somali pirates have hijacked two vessels in the Gulf of Aden. The International Maritime Bureau on Tuesday said the UK-flagged chemical tanker St. James Park, with 26 crew members aboard, was attacked on Monday night. A spokesman said twenty-six crew members were aboard- including Bulgarians, Filipinos, Georgians, Indians, Poles, Romanians, Russians, Turks and Ukrainians. After the vessel sent a distress signal, a warship from Task Force 151 contacted the ship and confirmed that it had been hijacked. The EU naval force said the St. James Park started its journey on Sunday and was now heading toward the Somali coast adding that it was monitoring the situation. Later, a second vessel, the Navios Apollon bulk carrier, sailing under Panamanian flag and carrying 19 crew members, was attacked. The bulk carrier also was seized in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia. The Navios Apollon is owned by a Greek company and the Maritime Bureau had no immediate information about the ships' cargo or destinations.
Piracy off the Somali coast has been a threat to international shipping since the beginning of the Somali Civil War in the early 1990s. Since 2005, many international organizations, including the International Maritime Organization and the World Food Programme, have expressed concern over the rise in acts of piracy. Piracy has contributed to an increase in shipping costs and impeded the delivery of food aid shipments. Ninety percent of the World Food Programme's shipments arrive by sea, and ships have required a military escort. According to the Kenyan foreign minister, Somali pirates have received over US$150 million in ransom during the 12 months prior to November 2008.
The Gulf of Aden is located in the Arabian Sea between Yemen on the south coast of the Arabian Peninsula and Somalia in the Horn of Africa. In the northwest, it connects with the Red Sea through the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, which is about 20 miles wide. The waterway is part of the important Suez Canal shipping route between the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Sea in the Indian Ocean with 21,000 ships crossing the gulf annually. The gulf is known by the nickname "Pirate Alley" due to the large amount of pirate activity in the area. The Gulf of Aden is a vital waterway for shipping, especially for Persian Gulf oil, making it an integral waterway in the world economy. Approximately 11 percent of the world's seaborne petroleum passes through the Gulf of Aden on its way to the Suez Canal or to regional refineries. The main ports along the gulf are Aden in Yemen, and Zeila, Berbera, and Bosaso in Somalia.