The waters around the Seychelles may be paradise, but it has hardly been a holiday for one oil tanker.
The Hong-Kong-flagged oil tanker suffered an attack from Somali pirates firing rocket-propelled grenades 400 nautical miles northeast of the Seychelles and 1,000 nautical miles east of Mogadishu, Somalia.
This was the longest range of a pirate attack off the Somali coast ever, the European Union Naval Force (EU Navfor) says. The attack on the BW Lion was launched by pirates in two fast attack skiffs. Automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades were fired. With increasing speed and evasive manoeuvres the master managed to evade the attack. No casualties were reported, EU Navfor confirms.
The international transit corridor near the coast is becoming safer due to the international naval patrols, but the increased vigilance is actually causing the pirates to carry out their attacks farther out to sea, according to EU Navfor spokesman Commodore John Harbour.
The attack follows a request by European Union military commanders for more warships to boost their antipiracy mission off the coast of Somalia, saying member states need to at least double their current commitments for the next year.
Currently we have three to four frigates committed for 2010,French General Henri Bentegeat, the chairman of the EU Military Committee, says. We need more. We need probably on a permanent basis between six to ten frigates in order to cover this very vast area.