Pirates Board Bangladeshi Bulker in the Indian Ocean

Pirates approach the Abdullah in the Indian Ocean (Facebook video)

Published Mar 12, 2024 1:07 PM by The Maritime Executive


A group of suspected Somali pirates has reportedly boarded a bulker run by a company in Bangladesh and are now steering the vessel toward Somalia. The shipping company, SK Shipping Lines, part of the KSRM Group, is confirming the attack although details are limited currently.

The vessel now named Abdullah (58,000 dwt) was acquired in late 2023 by the company in Bangladesh from Japanese owners and only recently resumed sailing. Built in 2015, she is 623 feet (190 meters). A crewmember from the ship who was a former cadet at the country’s Maritime Academy was able to send messages to one of his instructors including a video of the pirates’ approach pleading for assistance.

The vessel was approximately 500 nautical miles east of Mogadishu, Somalia in an area the shipping company said was ranked as low risk. However, the pirates possibly affiliated with the Houthi in Yemen are believed to be expanding the region of operations. 


(Video on Facebook showing the pirates coming alongside the bulker. Click to play)


The cadet said as many as 50 pirates had boarded the ship, although security services say it appears to be around 20 pirates. The bulker was sailing from Mozambique to the UAE and according to AIS signals was traveling at under 10 knots which would have made it an easy target. A crew of 23 is reported aboard and possibly locked in the citadel or their cabins. Reports are that there were two boats, one small and the other larger, that came alongside the bulker.

EUNAVOR Atalanta which is the agency monitoring the region had previously warned of increased activity and danger in the Indian Ocean. Since November 2023, they have listed 20 incidents, including the commandeering of the bulker Ruen which remains in Somalia as well as the attempts on the product tanker Central Park with the boarders capture by U.S. forces and the bulker Lila Norfolk where the Indian Navy appeared to have scared off the boarders and later secured the ship.

Most of the incidents have been with small fishing vessels. Ten have been attacked and liberated, while six are listed as hijacked and at least one other reported a suspicious approach. EUNAVFOR has warned of the potential of the fishing boats being used as mother vessels to support attacks on commercial shipping.

The seizing of the Navibulgar vessel Ruen in December 2023 was the first successful boarding of a large commercial vessel off Somalia since 2017.