Oil tanker attacked by pirates, risking eco disaster

Environmental disaster looms as oil siphoning pirate attacks spike in first quarter of 2015
There has been a sharp increase in pirates attacks in Q1 of 2015
There has been a sharp increase in pirates attacks in Q1 of 2015

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The Malaysian-flagged oil tanker Oriental Glory has been attacked by a group of 30 pirates, part of a concerning increase in 2015 in the number of attacks on merchant vessels.

The 3,000dwt vessel was en-route from Labuan to Tanjung Manis in the South China Sea when six small craft surrounded her, forcing the ship to alter course south.

The ship was then forced to stop and the 30 pirates boarded, robbing the crew of personal affects and siphoning 2,500 tons of bunker fuel.

The incident occurred on May 15th and the crew have since been transported to Tanjung Manis to aid in the piracy investigation.

Oriental Glory has now been attacked three times by pirates in the past year, although the previous incident in November was successfully countered by the vessel’s captain.

The anti-piracy organization ReCAAP has noted a strong increase in piracy for the first quarter of 2015, with severe incidents including fuel siphoning topping the list of organization’s concerns.

Fuel siphoning is particularly concerning for authorities as the specialised operation is carried out by unskilled individuals using improper equipment, raising the risk of explosion, fire and environmental disasters.

The lower portion of the South China Sea, where the attack on the Oriental Glory took place, is a known hotspot for pirate activity and ReCAAP has urged ships to be on heightened alert when traveling near the area.

Rear Admiral Lai Chung Han, the Singaporean naval chief, has announced that Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia are in discussions to increase patrols in the areas of the South China Sea most affected by piracy.

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