Round-the-clock naval patrols initiated at Port of Salalah

Muscat - 

Security has been stepped up around the Port of Salalah following the hijacking of the 26,350 dead weight tonne chemical tanker MV Fairchem Bogey. To prevent further attacks so close to the Omani shore, authorities have initiated a round- the-clock security programme. Meanwhile, reports said that the vessel and its captive crew arrived off the Somalia coast on Monday.

 Speaking to Muscat Daily, Peter Ford, CEO of Port of Salalah, said that the ports were looking to the government to keep the waters near the sultanate safe. “The Omani government has implemented a 24 hours a day, seven days a week patrol around the port area including the anchorage. However, this is only a stop-gap. All Omani ports look to the government to ensure that the territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone waters of Oman are safe for citizens and commerce alike,” said Ford.

There was also a risk, he added, that pirate attacks could harm the economic stability of some companies in the sultanate. “The piracy issue is a global scourge. It impacts everyone as far as the cost of goods at the shops is concerned and as pirates get bolder, they threaten the sovereignty of the country we live in. While we have had no measurable direct volume reduction, the impact of costs of piracy can make Omani businesses uncompetitive in the global marketplace.”

Anglo Eastern Ship Management, owners of the MV Fairchem Bogey, said on Monday that the vessel had arrived off the coast of Somalia following its hijacking on Saturday. Although empty of any cargo at the time of its capture, 21 crew members remain on board and the reports indicate they are in good health.

“We can now confirm that the chemical tanker has arrived in Somali waters, just north of Bandar Beyla. All the families of the crew have been contacted by crew members and from all accounts, the crew is safe and sound,” read the statement, adding that the ship's master had also been able to reconfirm the crews' safety.

However, no contact has been made with the hijackers so far. A family support centre had also been set up by the Anglo Eastern Ship Management, in a bid to meet the needs of the relatives of those on board the merchant vessel.

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