Pirate attacks targeting commercial shipping, including oil cargo, have sharply increased, Managing Director of National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) Ali Akbar Shafa’ie has said.
“Between 2007 and 2008 when maritime piracy began in the Gulf of Aden, our NITC fleet came under more than 70 attacks but they escalated very much in 2014 and the beginning of 2015,” he told the Labor News Agency ILNA.
However, none of the attacks on the Iranian cargo was successful, Shafa’ie said.
“Thanks to the potency of military and security forces on board and measures taken in line with IMO (International Maritime Organization) requirements and navigational readiness, none of the pirate attacks were successful and our fleet of tankers is safely transiting in international waters.”
Shafa’ie said low freeboard vessels are more susceptible to pirate attacks but generally all sorts of ships including oil cargoes are targeted.
“Most of the pirate attacks in the Strait of Malacca, around Sri Lanka, the Indian Ocean and some African coasts are traditional robberies but the Somalia phenomenon which started in the Gulf of Aden in 2008 has an intensity never seen before.”
Piracy has become a thriving business in Somalia where pirates use lawlessness and lack of government to keep vessels on the shore for months on end and demand ransom.
The Iranian navy is keeping a fleet of its warships constantly deployed near critical oil shipping lanes in order to protect the country's tankers from pirates.