The Greek crude oil tanker Kerala, which made international headlines earlier this week in the wake of reports that it may have been taken by pirates, is still missing. The ship had loaded a cargo of diesel at the port of Luanda and was sailing off the coast of Angola.
On Friday, the Athens-based Greek operator Dynacom Tankers Management Ltd. indicated that it still believes the 74,998-dwt tanker built in 2009 was hijacked by pirates, as since January 18 all communication with the vessel has been lost.
In a statement, Dynacom said they are working together with the Angolan coast guard and other agencies to reestablish communication with the vessel and added, “Here in Greece we are committed to the safety of the crew, environment and the vessel.”
Kerala is claimed to be carrying a crew of 27.
Bruce Paulsen, an attorney who specializes in the legal aspects of piracy, said in a brief interview with the website TradeWinds, that he was surprised to learn about a suspected attack this far south, but noted that the geography of the region could make it difficult to locate the Kerala even though it is a relatively large ship. “It is possible to hide ships off West Africa,” he explained.
Paulsen said there is a strong chance that Dynacom will hear from the vessel within a matter of days if it has been hijacked by pirates who are seeking ransom. “Blackout periods are intended to make the owner sweat,” he said.
A recent report by the International Maritime Bureau highlighted more than 40 attacks in the Gulf of Guinea during the first three-quarters of last year, with 132 crew taken hostage and seven vessels hijacked.