Somali pirates are thought to be behind the hijacking of a car carrier transporting 2,300 Hyundai and Kia vehicles between Singapore and Saudi Arabia while travelling through the India Ocean roughly 600 miles east of Somalia.
The pirates used a previously hijacked Pakistan-flagged fishing vessel – the Shazaib – to mount a raid on the Hyundai-owned VC Asian Glory at the weekend.
The vessel, which was being operated by Eukor on a timecharter basis, was manned by a crew of 25 who are now captive. Following the seizure of the car carrier the pirates released the crew of the Shazaib largely unharmed, though one crew member had a broken leg.
Speaking to Automotive Logistics News today Kia Motors spokesman Michael Choo confirmed that the vessel was carrying a mix of 2,300 Hyundai and Kia vehicles but said the company did not expect any significant losses from the incident. “Payment has already been received for these vehicle and our distributors in destination countries are solely responsible for all vehicles once they leave the outbound port,” he said. “Our distributors will also be protected since the vehicles in question are insured.”
However, there was some dispute between the carmakers involved regarding the vehicles involved with a spokesperson for Hyundai stating there were no Hyundai or Kia vehicles aboard and that the vessel was rumoured instead to be carrying a mix of “used executive cars” thought to be BMWs and Volvos.
What is certain is that piracy remains a serious threat to trade routes using the Gulf of Aden and surrounding area, this latest incident bringing to four the number of vessels that have been hijacked in the last week.
Last March, pirates chased Mitsui OSK Lines’ 13,000 tonne car carrier Jasmine Ace with just 377 used vehicles aboard on route to Port of Mombasa in Kenya, but were unsuccessful in their capture of the vessel after it took evasive action (read more here).