(CNN) -- An oil tanker bound for the United States was hijacked off Somalia with a crew of 28 aboard, maritime authorities said.
The M/V Maran Centaurus was commandeered about 600 nautical miles northeast of the Seychelles, on its way to New Orleans, Louisiana, according to the Maritime Security Center.
The crew consists of 16 Filipinos, nine Greeks, two Ukrainians and a Romanian, said the security agency, which is run by the European naval force.
The 300,000-ton tanker, which started out from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, was seized Sunday. It had changed course westward, toward Harardhere or Hobyo, along Somali's central-western coast.
Somali pirates have turned high-seas kidnappings into a lucrative business.
Pirates have captured more than 50 ships this year off Somalia and are currently holding 12, including the fishing vessel Alakrana, Spanish Defense Minister Carme Chacon said recently.
Attacks in the region have significantly increased this year, according to the International Maritime Bureau, which monitors shipping crimes. But successful attacks have gone down as a result of a strong presence of international monitors.
The first nine months of this year have seen more pirate attacks than all of last year, the bureau reported on October 21.
From January 1 through September 30, pirates worldwide mounted 306 attacks, compared with 293 in all of 2008, it said. More than half of this year's attacks were carried out by suspected Somali pirates off the east coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, a major shipping route between Yemen and Somalia.