Panamanian Tanker Attacked in Gulf of Aden

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  • As Newbuild Orders at Chinese Yards Take a Nosedive

A Panamanian-flagged oil tanker Alheera was rescued by Chinese Navy from a pirate attack on Saturday, April 15 while underway in the Gulf of Aden.

The ship was approached by a skiff with five pirates on board who were trying to board the tanker south off Balhaf, Yemen. As understood, the pirates fired at the tanker during the attempt to hijack it.

The crew managed to send a distress signal which was picked up by the Chinese navy.

Once informed of the attack, the Hengyang frigate of China’s 25th convoy fleet was sent to the scene. The frigate’s helicopter reached the tanker shortly and drove away the pirates, PLA Daily, the official newspaper of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) informed.

There were no injuries reported and the 2001-built ship was cleared to resume its voyage, the daily added.

According to Marine Traffic’s latest data, the ship has armed guard on board, and is underway using engine.

The ship is owned by UAE’s Gulf Energy and was built by Yardimci Deniz, Vessels Value data shows. The small clean tanker is laden with cargo.

Separately, two pirates were shot dead and one wounded by foreign naval forces while trying to hijack an unidentified ship near the Gulf of Aden, the Associated Press reported citing Ahmed Abdullahi, an official with the anti-piracy force in Puntland as saying on Sunday.

The two men were part of a group of nine pirates, the rest of which managed to flee the scene once the shots were fired.

Following a surge in armed pirate attacks on seafarers and their vessels in the area in 2008, counter-piracy naval forces and self-protection efforts by the maritime industry, managed to keep Somali piracy at bay. However, the recent rise in frequency of attacks in the Gulf of Aden have increased the need for extra vigilance when transiting the Indian Ocean.

In the meantime, China’s shipbuilding industry has experienced a 25.4 percent plunge in newbuilding orders during the first three months of 2017 compared to the same period a year earlier, according to data provided by the China Association of the National Shipbuilding Industry (Cansi).

Namely, the country’s shipbuilders managed to score only 5.54 million dwt of new orders in the first quarter of the year.

However, the report shows that Chinese yards saw a surge of 87.7 percent, compared to the same quarter in 2016, in completed vessel capacity as a total of 15.67 million dwt of vessels were constructed during the period.

The yards’ order backlog dropped by 26.3 percent to 88.65 million dwt, when compared to the same period a year earlier, and by 11 percent when compared to the order backlog seen at the end of 2016.

Additionally, Cansi informed that the 53 major shipbuilders secured 36.1 percent less of new orders which stood at 4.42 million dwt at the end of the three-month period, and completed 13.37 million dwt of vessel tonnage, representing a rise of 71.6 percent.

The report shows that the completed newbuild value at 80 of China’s yards was down by 7.5 percent year-on-year to RMB 85.87 billion (USD 12.4 billion).

During the first three months of 2017 the 80 yards reported a drop of 9.7 percent in total revenue which stood at RMB 62.4 billion, while their total profit fell by 63.5 percent to RMB 250 million on the back of a slowdown in the shipbuilding industry.

World Maritime News

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