Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Strait of Malacca pirate risk --to small tankers, local traffic

Experts say here:
Small liquid gas or chemical tankers sailing the Malacca Strait, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, face the biggest risk of a terror attack, a Singapore thinktank said.

A paper from the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies also said local shipping was more likely to come under attack from terrorists or pirates than mainline traffic.

Concern has increased in recent years that terrorists may hit shipping, or use ships as floating bombs in the Strait, which carries some 40 per cent of the world's trade, including 80 percent of the energy supplies of Japan and China.

'Relatively few actual attacks occur on large mainline through traffic vessels...For example, of the actual attacks in 2005, only two were on through traffic vessels,' the report said.
Why? As the piece notes, smaller ships are easier to board, with lower freeboard and probably tend to stay out of the center channels where the bigger ships transit. They have smaller crews and fewer hands to resist an attack. Of course there were those attacks on two larger ships...

And the somewhat chilling last paragraph:
'Due to the relative vulnerability of smaller and slower vessels, the greatest threat to a port might in fact come from a small LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) or chemical tanker rather than the larger vessels, which tend to attract the most security attention at present,' the report said.

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