As of Monday at least 56 foreign vessels plus two barges are in Somali hands against the will of their owners, while at least 886 hostages or captives – including a South-African yachting couple and a Danish yacht-family with three children and two friends – are being held, according to Ecoterra.
According to Ecoterra, “even EU NAVFOR, who mostly only counts high-value, often British insured vessels, admitted now that many dozens of vessels were sea-jacked despite their multi-million Euro efforts to protect shipping.”
EU NAVFOR also admitted in February 2011 for the first time that actually a larger number of vessels and crews is held hostage than those listed on their file, Ecoterra said.
Since EU NAVFOR’s inception at the end of 2008 the piracy off Somalia started in earnest and it has now completely escalated, according to Ecoterra.
In close co-operation with Iranian fishermen and authorities, Ecoterra said that it could establish that in addition to its last listing at least 11 more Iranian fishing vessels with a minimum of a further 182 seamen are missing in connection with Somali piracy.
“Our sources from Somalia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, East Africa, the Maldives and other locations combined paint a grim picture in connection with the fate of these seafarers,” Ecoterra said.
Two further dhows are said to have reached their home port in Iran in the meantime and at least one dhow was over the last weekend shot up and set free by a Dutch warship.
“We are trying to establish the full identity also of those vessels, which we could not yet include in the status report below with date of the incident and exact crew numbers,” Ecoterra said, adding that “it remains clear that the still persistent neglect of pirated vessels from countries like Yemen, Pakistan, India and Iran paints a much more serious picture than what the navies present to the mainstream media on their public lists.”
Following is am Ecoterra report on various ships that are currently being held by Somali pirates.
FV NN IRAN : Seized March 02, 2009. The Iranian fishing vessel and her 29 crew was seized allegedly by Somali pirates. The vessel is missing and wanted.
MV SOCOTRA 1 : Seized December 25. 2009. The vessel carrying a food cargo for a Yemeni businessman and bound for Socotra Archipelago was captured in the Gulf of Aden after it left Alshahir port in the eastern province of Hadramout. 6 crew members of Yemeni nationality were aboard. Latest information said the ship was commandeered onto the high seas between Oman and Pakistan, possibly in another piracy or smuggling mission. 2 of the original crew are reportedly on land in Puntland. VESSEL STILL MISSING and/or working as pirate ship, was confirmed by Yemeni authorities.
The vessel is wanted.
MSV HUD HUD seized March 23, 2010. The motorized, Pakistan-flagged and Pakistan-owned Dhow with 11 Pakistani crew was used to hijack MT ELENI P, a Greek merchant vessel which was released after the payment of a ransom.
Freed seafarers of the Greek merchant ship reported that after the successful boarding of MT ELENI P the pirates left the MSV HUDHUD and all embarked on MT ELENI P. It was therefore assumed that MSV HUD-HUD was set free on 12. May 2010.
It is, however, now reported by the Authorities, that the owners of the vessel still claim to not know the whereabouts of this vessel and its crew.
The vessel is wanted.
MV ICEBERG I : Seized March 29, 2010. The UAE-owned, Panama-flagged Ro-Ro vessel MV ICEBERG 1 (IMO 7429102) with her originally 24 multinational crew members (9 Yemenis, 6 Indians, 4 from Ghana, 2 Sudanese, 2 Pakistani and 1 Filipino) was sea-jacked just 10nm outside Aden Port, Gulf of Aden. The 3,960 dwt vessel was mostly held off Kulub at the North-Eastern Indian Ocean coast of Somalia. Since negotiations had not yet achieved any solution, the vessel was taken to the high seas again. Then the USS McFaul intercepted and identified the ship on 19th May 2010, despite the pirates having painted over her name and re-named the ship SEA EXPRESS, while the vessel was on a presumed piracy mission on the high-seas. Since about 50 pirates on the ship made any rescue operation impossible without endangering the 24 crew, the naval ship followed the commandeered vessel’s movements for the next 36 hours, until it began to sail back towards the coast of Somalia. Already back then it had transpired that the shipping company Azal Shipping based in Dubai refused to pay any ransom and the ship is apparently not insured, though it carries quiet valuable cargo. It seems that the British cargo owner is influencing the not forthcoming negotiations. The sailors soon had no more food, water or medicine from their stores on board. Chief Officer Kumar, Chief Engineer Mohamed and Second Engineer Francis also stated since months that they urgently need Diesel for the electricity generators. The crew requested in July and August again humanitarian intervention as before but could only receive some supplies through intervention by local elders and a humanitarian group, because the owner-manager neglects the crew. In September some negotiations for the release started again, but were not concluded or continued, because the captors consider the offer of the shipowner as unrealistic. According to the Chinese state-media newswire XINHUA, the acting director at the ministry of foreign affairs in Accra (Ghana) Mr. Lawrence Sotah said the ministry, in response to a petition by a relative of one of the hostages, had commenced investigations, but reportedly stated also that their location and reasons for the kidnapping remained unknown. “We do not have any information as to what the pirates are demanding, because the owners of the ship or the pirates themselves have not put out any information which will be helpful for us to know exactly what they want,” he said. “Ghana’s mission in Saudi Arabia has been contacted to assist, ” Sotah said. He said the ministry was working with other international security organization to get to the bottom of what he termed the “alleged” kidnapping.
The vessel is owned by a company called ICEBERG INTERNATIONAL LTD, but registered only with “care of” the ISM-manager AZAL SHIPPING & CARGO (L.L.C) – Shipping Lines Agents – Dubai UAE, whose representative Mr. Yassir Amin – said to be a Yemeni – was stating to all sides that he is handling the case.
Though EU NAVFOR spokesman Cmdr. John Harbour had stated that the vessel was carrying just “general mechanical equipment” and was heading for the United Arab Emirates when it was attacked, it carries according to the owner-manager generators, transformers and empty fuel tanks. It could now be confirmed that besides other cargo it carries generators and transformers for British power rental company Aggreko International Power Projects and the cargo seems to be better insured than the vessel.
One of the sailors from Ghana was able to speak to a journalist back home and stated on 22. September: “They have given us a 48 hour deadline that if we don’t come up with anything reasonable they will kill some of us and sink the vessel. I am appealing to the Ghanaian authority that they should do something to save our lives because our treatment here is inhuman”. The vessel was then very close to the shore of Garacad. In the beginning of October the Somali pirates allegedly threatened to kill the sailors and to sell the body organs of the 22 hostages, if their ransom demands are not met in the near future. Media reports said the information was received via a text message from one of the hostages, but investigations showed that the message, which read that the pirates will kill them and then remove their eyes and kidneys in order to be sold, is more a sort of a macabre hoax. On 27. October the third officer (name of the Yemeni man known but withheld until next of kin would speak out) died. The crew reported the case, evidence was provided and the owner confirmed that he also knows. Since there is no more light diesel to run the generators for the freezer, the owner reportedly just gave instructions to take the body off the vessel, but has made no arrangements to bring it back to Yemen.
Thereafter it was said that the group holding the ship would use it again to capture other vessels when two skiffs were taken taken on board hinting at plans that the gang intended to commandeer the ship to the high-seas again. But vessel and crew were then still held at Kulub near Garacad at the North-Eastern Indian Ocean coast of Somalia, because the vessel was out of fuel. The pirates, however, managed then to refuel from another vessel.
The families of the Indian seafarers on board have several times called upon the President and the Prime Minister of India and addressed the Indian Minister to help and solve the crisis, since the shipowner is not even responding to their requests for information. Though Dubai’s Azal Shipping, fronting for the real owners, stated to a maritime website that the crew would not be malnourished, the governments of the seafarers already have statements from the captain and crew-members themselves, which state otherwise and also describe the appalling medical situation.
Again an urgent request to deliver relief-supplies in form of food, water and urgently required medicine as well as fuel for the generators has been made by the captain and crew, but was so far neglected by the ship-owner, who also has not yet facilitated the transfer of the body of the deceased to his Yemeni family. A great number of the still surviving 23 crew are suffering now from serious medical conditions of various kind , ranging from blindness, infections to mental illness, and most suffer from skin rashes, which make now humanitarian intervention and medical assistance compulsory.
It is hoped that the Indian Prime Minister, who was in the UAE, can achieve that the owners of the vessel are now really engaging in a tangible process to free the vessel and not just rely on their so-called consultants.
Latest reports state that the vessel is now only one mile off the beach off Kulub. Dangers that it might get wrecked on the beach are real, because the chief engineer alerted that there is no more fuel on board to manoeuvre the vessel away from the shore and heavy winds and waves push the vessel closer to land.
It would not be the first time that unscrupulous vessel or cargo owners even hope to cash in on the insurance money for a wrecked ship and lost cargo in such a case.
Since 02. February 2005 the classification society Bureau Veritas had withdrawn from this vessel, because a survey of the ship was already overdue back then and no survey has been carried out since. But this did not stop disputed outfits like the Canadian company Africa Oil to use the ICEBERG I as their supply vessel for their adventures with the Australian oil-juggler Range Resources and the Puntland regional administration and to take equipment back to Djibouti when their deal finally went sour recently.
The vessel is also not covered by an ITF Agreement and the crew will have serious difficulties to get their rights even once they come free.
Already the family of the deceased Yemeni seafarer and their lawyer from Aden had no success to achieve any co-operation from the vessel owner or their front-men – a situation experienced by several organizations already before.
Meanwhile the flag-state Panama and the governments of the seafarers have been addressed and are requested to step in. Panama’s Shipping Registry, the largest in the world at the end of 2010, has finally exited the “grey list” compiled by signatories of the Paris Memorandum of Understanding (Paris MOU.) The Paris MOU compiles a list of shipping registries that are not in compliance with international standards. So too is expected now that the authorities from Panama will take their guarantor position as flag-state concerning the lives of the seamen on MV ICEBERG serious now.
Latest reports say that the body of the deceased seafarer is decomposing, while vessel and crew are obviously also earmarked to rot unattended in that hell.
Reports from the destitute families say that the vessel-owner hasn’t even paid any outstanding salaries and the Indian government has so far only reacted with diplomatic niceties, but no help to the situation in any way.
The vessel has now been moved from Kulub to Ceel Dhanaane south of Garacad, but the chief engineer said he has no more fuel to run the generators and that during one of the manoeuvres the propeller and shaft were damaged.
During the first week of February humanitarian mediation efforts achieved that some crew-members could talk to their families and the families reported that the vessel owner has completely abandoned the crew and his vessel, while also officials from the numerous governments, who are tasked because their nationals are hostages, reportedly also have achieved no step ahead, while the so-called owner of the vessel from AZAL SHIPPING recently stated to the pirates: “Whether you kill the crew or you sink the ship I don’t care.” – as documented by the crew.
Reports on a certain Somalia website, however, claiming that the chief engineer was missing from the ship and had been taken to an undisclosed location on land, turned out to be simply not true.
The families of the Indian hostages on board went therefore public mid February 2011 and decried the total irresponsibleness of the Indian government. They stated to CNN/IBN that neither the Indian Prime Minister nor the the ministers concerned nor any of the authorities tasked with the duties to care for the hostage seafarers had shown any activity to work on the release of the seafarers on MV ICEBERG I.
The Yemeni family of the deceased sailor has been informed that they have to make a decision what shall happen with the corpse, since the pirates seem no longer be willing to put diesel into its generator.
The captain of the ill-fated ship stated that the owners of the vessel had given up ownership and has now addressed the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to assist him with the transfer of ownership and the sale of vessel and cargo in order to recover the wages of the crew and to buy their freedom. He confirmed this also to the families and to CNN/IBN and sent respective written communication to the IMO.
The fathers of six Indian crew members of MV Iceberg I said now they will begin a hunger strike outside the home of India’s Prime Minister in Delhi until the hostages are freed.
For the first time in nearly a year, the Seafarers Association of India, now woke up too and they said “they were looking into the matter.”
Meanwhile the alleged owner of the vessel at AZAL shipping, who is said to be of Yemeni origin, tried unsuccessfully to derail the brunt of the media and families, who even called now on the authorities of the UAE to arrest him, by claiming that he would negotiate through a Somali exGeneral, who used to work for the Somali government.
The fear that the shipping company wants to wreck the vessel is not over. NexLaw, a Consultancy founded and run by one Ravi Ravindran, who originated from Singapore and moved his business from Turkey into the Dubai Maritime City Free Zone under the name DMCEST and is dealing mainly with shipwrecks was on the case since long. Ravi Ravindran said Yassir Amin of Azal Shipping had mandated him. But with which task, is the question. To wreck it? The NexLaw/DMCEST company claimed already earlier to have been involved also in the case of secretly U.S.-owned but Yemen-based MV SEA PRINCESS II, a seajacked small tanker which was another case where one dead seafarer on board had to be decried and which was then finally freed by the involvement of the cargo-owners and not the consultancy. Since Ravi Ravindran obviously didn’t achieve a release, Yassir Amin now resorted to claim that he had involved a Somali exGeneral from Mogadishu.
Recent media reports by one Indian paper about a second death among the crew could not be verified and are believed to be not true. However, the situation of the crew is now really precarious with the shipowner apparently incapable and the pirates demanding.
Dutch warship HNLMS De Ruyter (F 804) had apparently tried in March to receive the body of the deceased Yemeni seafarer from the pirates, but because they approached in a way that the pirates believed it could be trick to launch an attack, their attempt was not successful. On the 27. October 2010 Wagdi Akram, a Yemeni and father of four , the third officer, jumped overboard in a fit of dementia. Akram’s body was retrieved, stored in a freezer, wrapped in an orange plastic casing with a few bags of ice to keep it cold. Meanwhile it is reported that the gang had to dispose the body into the sea, since there was no more diesel to run the generator and even the crew is cooking now with firewood on board. The electric power having failed when the diesel for the generators ran out, and because the vessel owner did absolutely nothing to help the family to receive the body for burial, the man’s remains were thrown overboard.
More and more signs are pointing to an outcome similar to that of ill-fated MV RAK AFRIKANA, which was wrecked on the coast of Somalia. Only in this case it will be most likely a more serious disaster, since the vessel is reportedly also carrying toxic fluids in containers, which are according to the manifest supposed to be empty. Already IMO, UNEP and other organizations, whose duty is to avert such grave pollution of a coastal ecosystem, have been called upon and the naval forces are urged not to let this vessel go down.
The case has turned into the most ugly tragedy if Somali pirate history, since it has been revealed now that the Chief engineer apparently is so severely handicapped now that his survival is seriously endangered.
MV ICEBERG I, however, still still moored at Ceel Dhanaane at the North-Eastern Somali Indian Ocean coast, while diplomatic avoidance games and the neglect of responsibility from the side of the ownership continue.
FV JIH-CHUN TSAI 68 (aka JIN CHUN TSAI NO 68) (日春財68號) : Seized March 30, 2010. The Taiwan-flagged and -owned fishing vessel with factory facility was attacked together with sister-ship Jui Man Fa (瑞滿發), which managed to escape. The vessels are operating out of the Seychelles and reportedly had been observed in Somali waters earlier. The crew of Jih-chun Tsai No. 68 consists of 14 sailors – a Taiwanese captain along with two Chinese and 11 Indonesian seamen. The mostly rusty-white vessel also sports distinct markings:
BJ4632 and CT4-2632 and TS007. Allegedly the vessel belongs to Tsay Jyh–Gwo of Taiwan, a company know for notorious fish-poaching also from the Pacific. The vessel was mostly held at Kulub at the North-Eastern Indian Ocean coast of Somalia and at first negotiations faced serious communication problems, while later allegedly a conclusion was achieved. But the release could still not be effected, since the brokers as well as the pirate-group holding the vessel changed. Allegedly money was sent into the wrong hands and never reached those holding the vessel and the seafarers hostage. It was reported in the meantime that the Taiwanese captain had several times been beaten severely. However, a release of vessel and crew from Kulub seemed to be near at the end of 2012 when the vessel left the coast at the end of November, but is said now to NOT have been released and instead is used for another piracy operation.
10 Indonesian sailors from the Taiwanese fishing vessel were then exchanged on 19. March 2011 with a navy vessel in a deal to return the body of a Somali pirate from VLCC IRENE SL, who had been seriously wounded earlier, was then handed to the naval ship for emergency surgery, but died on the operation table.
The ten Indonesians are in safety now.
On 22. March at 07h32 UTC pirated MV JIN CHUN TSAI 68, suspected to act as mother ship, was then reported in position 17 41N and 063 18E with her remaining crew comprising the Taiwanese captain along with two Chinese and one Indonesian sailor, which still remain as hostages and human shield on the fishing vessel. The vessel continues to bee used as piracy launch.and is wanted.
Last known position of the vessel at 08h51 UTC on 23 March 2011 was 21 16 N and 063 22 E, steaming with course 355 degrees at a speed of only 5kts.
At 18h50 UTC on 24. March the pirated rust-bucket was reported in position 21 40 N and 063 03 E steaming with course 210 degrees and a speed of 6 knots.
MV RAK AFRIKANA : Seized April 11, 2010. The general cargo vessel RAK AFRICANA (IMO 8200553) with a dead-weight of 7,561 tonnes (5992t gross) was captured at 06h32 approximately 280 nautical miles west of Seychelles and 480nm off Somalia in position 04:45S – 051:00E. The captured vessel flies a flag of convenience from St. Vincent and the Grenadines and has as registered owner RAK AFRICANA SHIPPING LTD based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and an office in the Seychelles, while industry sources said the beneficial owner was from China. AL SINDBAD SHIPPING & MARINE from Ras al Khaimah (UAE) serves as manager. After the delivery of a ransom 26 seamen (11 Indians, including the captain, the second and third officer, as well as 10 Tanzanians and 5 Pakistanis) abandoned the vessel, because it allegedly couldn’t sail and first a Spaanish and then an Italian warship took the crew – only to deliver them for further transport onto likewise released MT YORK for travels to Mombasa in Kenya. The crew is safe, but the vessel not.
– more background – see our updates on 09. and 11. March 2011
MV RAK AFRICANA was held at position 0435N 04804E , which is just south of Ceel Gaan at the coast of Harardheere District, when the ransom was delivered, the pirates abandoned the ship and the crew said they couldn’t move the vessel out to sea. On March 9, marine authorities received a distress call from the vessel stating that they were taking on large amounts of water due to what was described as a “hole in the hull,” hours after the vessel had been released from pirate control. The EU-NAVFOR Spanish warship SPS Canarias was immediately sent to assist the stricken vessel and was later joined by the Italian warship ITS Zeffiro, which arrived first and carried out the rescue operation. Some 25 crewmembers abandoned the RAK Afrikana and took to the lifeboats. The crew were rescued by Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB) from the Italian warship shortly afterward. The master of the vessel stated that the ship was expected to sink soon.
Apparently at first a tug-boat was called to pull the vessel, but it was later cancelled and the Spanish and Italian warship ITS Zeffiro, which had assisted and watched the ransom transfer, took on the crew, which was later transferred to likewise released MT YORK – thereby the sailors reached Mombasa in Kenya safely.
Though it was said the vessel would take on water through a big hole in the hull and observers wondered how this could be, since the vessel had been floating fine through all these month of being held hostage, the vessel didn’t sink as predicted by EU NAVFOR.
Somalia has now to deal with a ship-wreck at its beach and the environmental pollution just north of the spot where the crew had abandoned the ship. Observers from Handulle (Xandulle) say the cargo is still on board.
Why the European warships didn’t pull the vessel is not explained and leaves many questions to be followed up by the insurance, the Italian government as well as the Somali governance of the area where the vessel will cause serious damage to the marine ecosystem.
The vessel is as ghost ship drifting unattended along the Somali coast. She is slowly going down, observers reported at the end of March and stated: “We can not say yet where she will find her last spot – all is depending on wind and currents and time.”
ECOTERRA Intl. meanwhile called on the shipowner, the navies and the Italian, Indian and United Arab Emirates governments, who had used the vessel jointly for cadet training to salvage the vessel and pull her off the coast and into a safe location.
“We can not tolerate that pirates and irresponsible shipowners let the vessel pollute our coast and use the opportunity to get rid of an old ship,” said Dr. Abdulkadir Salad Elmi from ECOTERRA-Somalia. The biologist also wonders why the owners of the cargo do not cry foul, since it is reportedly still on the vessel. “Or is it all an insurance scam and an understanding between pirates and shipowner – with the navies just as bystander or possible accomplice?” he asks and continued: “They had time now since 9. March 2011 to pull the vessel and it is even still possible now to salvage the ship, so why the owner did since three weeks not call a tug-boat from Mombasa or found other means?”
Dr. Elmi speaks also on behalf of the Somali communities whose coastal stretch, ecosystem and livelihood would be ruined with the pollutants in form of oil and other substances from the vessel, if it is not pulled away.
But the IMO, who should have become active, seems to shy away from its duties, while the UAE’s rocky statelet of Ras Al Khaimah, where the owner of thois vessel resides, is now being branded a rogue state.
According to security analysts, the regime presents an international security threat because the kingdom is allowing the shipment of weapons, including nuclear weapons parts, drugs and blood diamonds as well as military personnel and terrorists from al-Qaida and other networks.
Last observations revealed that ill-fated and abandoned MV RAK AFRIKANA, left or even instigated to sink, is now, after more than 3 week from the day when the crew left the vessel clandestinely and then stated that she would sink within hours, has gone down very low, but still the superstructures were visible over the last weekend at position 0435N and 04804E, which is south of Ceel Gaan at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast.
THAI FISHING FLEET : Seized April 18, 2010 with a total crew of 77 sailors, of which 12 are Thai and the others of different nationalities, the Thailand-flagged vessels operating out of Djibouti were fishing illegal in the Indian Ocean off Minicoy Island in the fishing grounds of the Maldives. All three vessels were then commandeered towards the Somali coast by a group of in total around 15 Somalis. Already there are reports of three dead sailors with these vessels.
FV PRANTALAY 11 with a crew of 26 (freed and towed by Indian Navy and Coastguard, returned to Thailand )
FV PRANTALAY 12 with a crew of 25 (hostage at the Somali coast, off Ceel Dhanaane)
FV PRANTALAY 14 with a crew of 26 (taken out and sunk by Indian Navy and Coastguard)
None of these vessels is registered and authorized by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission to fish in the Indian Ocean.
The fleet was mostly held off the coast at Kulub near Garacad (06 59N 049 24E) at the north-eastern Indian Ocean coast of Somalia. The captors already threatened since months to use one of the hunter-vessels of the group as a piracy-launch, while negotiations have not been forthcoming. Prantalay 14 left the coast in the morning of 20. September to what is said to be another piracy expedition. Three skiffs, three ladders and other equipment were observed to be on board. The vessel has been further observed on 28. September near the shipping lanes in the area. On 30. September at 10h15 UTC a Pirate Action Group consisting of one skiffs with ladders and weapons was reported in position 07 34 N 057 39 E, which is assessed to be connected to an operation of this fishing vessel as Mother Ship – reported in position 06 47 N 060 51 E. A regional minister from Puntland got into problems when final negotiations for the release of the held vessels were supposed to take place at Garacad, but went sour. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva wants the navy to extend its anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia for another month. He will seek cabinet approval for an additional budget of about 100 million baht for this purpose, navy chief Admiral Kamthorn Phumhiran said earlier. Adm Kamthorn said Mr Abhisit wants the mission of The Royal Thai Navy Counter Piracy Task Unit of two navy ships with 351 sailors and 20 special warfare troops on board, which had left Thailand on Sept 10 and is now operating in the Gulf of Aden, extended. The mission was originally set for 98 days, ending on Dec 12., but the usual fishing season goes beyond that time, which is believed to be behind the extension demands. Now also FV PRANTALAY 11 left on another hunting mission for piracy prey, because the Thais have not at all even tried to wrench the ships from the fists of their captors. Only PRANTALAY 12 and her crew was then left as a super-hostage at the coast until on 16th November also FV PRANTALAY 12 sailed again to the oceans. All vessels were were and are abused for piracy missions since the shipowner PT Interfisheries didn’t secure their release.
FV PRANTALAY 11 and FV PRANTALAY 12 returned in the meantime after having been used to capture another merchant vessels, and were first held again off Kulub (near Garacad) at the North-Eastern Somali Indian Ocean coast. FV PRANTALAY 11 was said to be still out hunting but then came to Ceel Gaan near Harardheere, while PRANTALAY 12 is moored north of Hobyo and PRANTALAY 14 was shot out of the water by the INDIAN NAVY.
The Indian Navy and Coast Guard sunk FV PRANTALAY 14 in a military action, which was termed an anti-piracy operation and was executed near the Lakshadweep group of islands in the utmost southeastern portion of the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean. The Islands belong to India.
The Somali buccaneers had been using FV Prantalay 14 and the two other pirated vessels of that fishing fleet from Thailand as piracy launches after their owner refused a deal to have the vessels released against a ransom.
Indian warship INS CANKARSO, a fast attack craft, intercepted FV PRANTAY 14 during evening hours of 21. January 2011 around 370 km off the Kochi coast.
According to a statement from the Indian navy their frigate fired the first shot as a warning shot well ahead of the bows of Prantalay in order to force the pirated fishing vessel to stop. Then the pirates opened fire with automatic weapons in a desperate bid to escape. The Indian naval vessel then opened up and in what the Indian navy reportedly called ‘limited fire in self defense’ they used heavy guns, probably including ship-to-ship missiles or a torpedo, which caused the Thailand ship to burst into flames and to sink. The vessel wouldn’t have sunk so fast if only the excess fuel for the outboard engines of the skiffs had exploded.
The Indian navy stated that they rescued 20 fishermen and arrested 15 Somali pirates.
But the crew of FV PRANTALAY 14 comprised 26 seafarers of Thai and Myanmar nationalities..
Despite official requests the Indian authorities have so far not answered the question was happened to the missing 6 crew-members and if any of the surviving crew-members is injured.
Likewise it has not been communicated how many Somalis lost their live in the attack and how many of the 15 arrested are injured, because in a communicated picture only 12 arrested Somalis were shown.
In a similar attack against commandeered Thai fishing vessel FV EKAWAT NAVA 5 the Indian Navy had killed all crew, except for one survivor,who was found by a merchant ship six days after the attack floating in the Gulf of Aden. He survived and could tell the real story. The government of Thailand back then had officially protested to the Indian Government.
FV PRANTALAY 11 was then reported as being held at the Central Somali coast off Ceel Gaan (Harardheere district), but must have left for another piracy mission, since it was freed on 05. February 2011 by the Indian Navy near the Lakshadweep islands. 52 men, of which 28 are said to be pirates and 24 men of the original 26 member crew, were arrested in the swoop after some exchange of gunfire. No information has transpired yet concerning the 2 missing crew members.
According to informed sources, the Thai fishing vessel FV PRANTALAY 14 had 25 Somali pirates on board of which 15 were captured alive. 10 Somalis were killed during the exchange of fire and 14 Somalis were arrested, while one wounded man is treated for his injuries at a medical facility.
Allegedly the heavy 40mm and 20mm gunfire from INS CANKARSO, a fast Indian attack craft which had intercepted FV PRANTALAY 14 during the evening hours of 21. January 2011 around 370 km off the Kochi coast, was sufficient to sink the vessel. Other reports, however, stated that the sinking vessel was engulfed in flames.
The fishermen stated that 22 of the original crew of 26 sailors were on this piracy trip and 20 survived the naval operation. The nationalities of the two seamen who died in the attack were not released yet.
After the operation by the Indian navy and coastguard to free FV PRANTALAY 11 – with 52 people surviving – 28 were identified as pirates and 24 crew. The vessel then was taken in tow by the Indian Navy and secured.
Further details on how many people were killed during the operation have not yet been made available, but human rights observers wondered why the arrested men were shown blindfolded and were being led into the cells with black sacks over their heads. India has announced it would probe links, which the Somali pirates might have with terrorist groups.
At least five crew members of the three Thai trawlers hijacked by pirates have been reported to have died of hunger and sickness after the owner of the trawlers refused to pay ransom during the 10-month-long hostage crisis.
Strapped of resources, the pirates provided little food during this time to the hostages. “Four crew members on FV PRANTALAY 14 fell sick and died due to lack of medical supplies and one crew member from PRANTALAY 11, the vessel rescued by the Navy and Coast Guard on Sunday, is also reported to have died of the same reason,” an Indian officer from Yellow Gate police station, where the culprits are held, stated.
Thai officials, who had regularly been alerted about the plight of the seafarers have so far not managed to achieve any peaceful solution.
FV PRANTALAY 12, more like a factory ship and not as fast as the other two other vessels, as well as maybe some other survivors of the crews from the two other vessels are still kept under pirate control in Somalia. Though pirates, like in the case of the attack by the South Korean Navy on pirated MV SAMHO JEWELRY, made announcements that they would retaliate for each of the killed or arrested Somali, such acts had not to be recorded yet.
Unfortunately it is reported that there are also no negotiations to free FV PRANTALAY 12, the last of the Thai fishing fleet, which was reportedly fishing illegally in the Indian Ocean. That vessel and the crew is still held at the North-Eastern Somali Indian Ocean coast off Ceel Dhanaane..
FV AL-DHAFIR : Seized on May 06 or 07, 2010. The Yemen coastguard of the Arabian peninsular state reported the case to have occurred off the coast of Yemen. Yemen’s Defence Ministry confirmed that the 7 Yemeni nationals on board were abducted to Somalia. Yemen’s coastguard said Somali pirates captured the fishing vessel, while it was docked at a Yemeni island in the Red Sea and had taken it to Somalia. The coastguard was continuing its efforts to retrieve the boat, the Defence Ministry said, but meanwhile the dhow was said to be held at the Somali shore close to Kulub.
MSV SHUVAL : Seized May 08, 2010. Latest information retrieved about the fate of this Yemen-flagged vessel confirmed a sighting at Garacad, where the vessel was at anchorage on 9. June 2010. Yemeni authorities could not tell the number of crew and are further investigating.
MV SUEZ : Seized August 02, 2010. In the early hours at 0420 UTC of AUG 02, 2010, the MV SUEZ (IMO number 8218720) reported being under small arms fire from a pirate attack by one of 3 skiffs in position 13 02N – 048 54E in the Gulf of Aden and minutes later the Indian captain reported pirates on board. The vessel had come from Karachi port (Pakistan) from where it had left on 27. July 2010.
After notification of the attack, attempts were made by the navies, who are supposed to protect the area, to make contact with the MV SUEZ, but to no avail. Egyptian-owned MV SUEZ was sailing under flag of convenience of Panama in the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) when it was attacked. After the first report a helicopter was Immediately directed to the ship, but pirates had already taken over the command of the vessel, EU NAVFOR reported.
Two NATO warships, HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën and USS Cole, from the NATO counter piracy task force undertaking Operation OCEAN SHIELD, and a Singaporean warship the RSS Endurance from the CMF taskforce were within forty miles of MV Suez at the time of the attack. Despite reacting immediately and having a helicopter on the scene within 10 minutes, naval forces were unable to prevent the attack as the pirates had been able to board the ship within 5 minutes, NATO reported.
The case actually shows that though the ship was reportedly employing Best Management Practices, having barbed wire in place and fire hoses ready, the waters off Yemen and opposite Puntland are the most dangerous in the whole area. Somali sea-shifta are able to outwit and overcome any preventive measures – including arms on board, which only would drive the casualty figures higher. The incident actually highlights once again that it is high time to follow the advice to engage and help local Somali communities along the two coasts to make their coastlines safer themselves and to empower them to rule out the holding of any hostage from these innocent merchant vessels.
The Panama flagged MV SUEZ, with a deadweight of 17, 300 tonnes, has a crew of 24, according to NATO, while EU NAVFOR said 23 and the last crew-list: showed 21 with 9 Egyptians, 7 Pakistani, 3 Indians and 2 Sri Lankans. It, however, could be confirmed in the meantime that the 23 men crew consists of 11 Egyptians, 6 Indians, 4 Pakistani and 2 Sri Lankans. The Indian crew members were named as NK Sharma, Satnam Singh, Parshad Chohan, Sachin Padoran, John Rose Bisco and Ravinder Singh. Crew and shipowner do not have an ITF Approved CBA agreement and – due to an overdue survey – the ship’s classification status had been withdrawn by Germanischer Lloyd since 28. 06. 2010. The detailed, actual crew list is awaited. RED SEA NAVIGATION CO. serves as ship manager for owner MATSO SHIPPING CO. INC. – both from Port Tawfiq in Egypt. Red Sea Navigation’s commercial director Mohamed Abdel Meguid said his company already paid a US$1.5 million ransom “last year” (actually it was in 2008) for another hostage ship, the MV MANSOURAH 1 (aka Al Mansourah), which was sea-jacked on 03. September 2008 and released against the ransom after only 23 days. As DPA reported from Cairo a day after the abduction of MV SUEZ, an official with Red Sea Navigation Company, who declined to be identified publicly, said that the company would not pay a ransom and that the matter was being handled by the Foreign Ministry in Cairo.
MV SUEZ, the merchant vessel with a cargo of cement bags destined for Eritrea, was then commandeered towards the north-eastern Indian Ocean coast of Somalia and was expected at the pirate lair of Garacad in Puntland, but there pirate groups were fighting among each other and had come recently under pressure from Puntland forces. The vessel therefore dropped at first anchor near Bargaal and then was commandeered back again to the Gulf of Aden coast of Puntland, where it was held close to Bolimoog, between Alula and Habo at the very northern tip of the Horn of Africa. Thereafter the ship was moved again to the Indian Ocean coast near Dinowda Qorioweyn.
“The pirates are treating us toughly, and they took some of the crew to unknown place to exert pressure on owners of the ship,” Farida Farouqe quoted her husband as telling her over the phone, as Xinhua news agency reported. The alleged demands vary between one, four and six million dollars, while officially the ship owner has been reported as saying already earlier that no ransom will be paid, while the cargo-owners seem to have been negotiating. Vessel and desperate crew were held off Dinowda Quorioweyn at the North-Eastern Indian Ocean coast of Puntland and until 12. December off Ceel Danaane.
Reports then stated that the vessel, accompanied by a sea-jacked Iranian fishing vessel, was set to go on another piracy mission, because the captors and the owners couldn’t agree on a ransom, and actually did leave that coast, but was observed anchored since 1. January 2011 at Garacad in position 0653N – 04922E.
The situation on board is meanwhile desperate, because neither the Egyptian government nor the owner seem to care, while the vessel and crew are still held off Ceel Dhanaane.
The pirate gang has been urged to release the innocent vessel and crew in solidarity with the people of Egypt.
After a long silence now also the government of India has started to become active an tries to assist with everything possible to finalize the case.
YEMENI FISHING VESSEL : Seized August 26, 2010. The earlier reports provided by maritime observers speaking of the capture of a fishing vessel were confirmed now to the extend that the type and flag of the vessel have been identified. The Yemeni fishing vessel with at least 10 sailors on board was seized in the territorial waters of Somalia. The name of the vessel and Yemeni registration is not yet known. The Yemeni boat was sailing near the north coast of Somalia when the captors attacked it with small skiffs. They later headed toward the Somali coast. Present location unknown. At the beginning of November 2010 in total at least five Yemeni fishing vessels were held by the Somali sea-gangs, though the Yemen authorities could not provide a detailed account.
MT OLIB G : Seized September 08, 2010. Reports from our local observers were confirmed by EU NAVFOR: Early on the morning of 8 September, the Greek-owned, Malta-flagged Merchant Vessel (M/V) MT OLIB G (IMO 8026608) – a Greek-owned chemical tanker – was pirated in the east part of the protected Gulf of Aden corridor. After having received a report from a merchant vessel that a skiff was approaching MV OLIB G, and after several unsuccessful attempts to make contact with the vessel, the USS PRINCETON warship of Task Force 151 launched its helicopter. The helicopter was able to identify two pirates on board MT OLIB G, the EU report stated. The MT OLIB G was sailing West in the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor en route from Alexandria to India through the Gulf of Aden – allegedly carrying only ballast. The Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) is an area in which EU NAVFOR (Task Force 465), NATO (Task Force 508) and Combined Maritime Force (Task Force 151) coordinate the patrol of maritime transits. It is, however, not known yet if the vessel was involved in dumping or why it was just sailing with ballast. The MT OLIB G, deadweight 6,375 tons, has a crew of 18, among which are 15 Georgian and 3 Turkish. Crew and vessel are not covered by ITF Agreement. The vessel has as registered owners FRIO MARITIME SA and as manager FRIO VENTURES SA, both of Athens in Greece. The attack group is said to consist of people from the Majerteen (Puntland) and Warsangeli (Sanaag) clans, who had set out from Elayo. After the well timed attack – more or less synchronized with attacks on two other vessels – and the subsequent overpowering of the crew the vessel was then commandeered towards the Indian Ocean coast of Somalia, where it was first held near Eyl and then off Kulub. According to media reports the owner of the vessel initially offered a ransom of $75,000, but later raised it to $150,000. However, the sea pirates want no less than $15 million, a Press TV correspondent reported. Both sides seem to be not realistic.
However, information had transpired that the Georgian government made now arrangements with the vessel owner to free the ship and crew by end of February 2010.
Vessel and crew are at present still held south of Eyl and north of Garacad near a place called Ceel Fusc at the North-Eastern Indian Ocean coast of Somalia and different reports about continued conflicts have been received.
MSV NASTA AL YEMEN : Reportedly seized on Sept. 14, 2010. Number of crew yet unknown, but presumed 9. Further report awaited from Yemen.
MT ASPHALT VENTURE : Seized September 28, 2010. The Panama-flagged asphalt tanker MT ASPHALT VENTURE (IMO 8875798) was captured on her way from Mombasa – where the vessel left at noon on 27. September, southbound to Durban, at 20h06 UTC = 23h06 local time in position 07 09 S 40 59 E. The vessel was sailing in ballast and a second alarm was received at 00h58 UTC = 03h58 LT. The ship with its 15 all Indian crew was then observed to have turned around and is at present commandeered northwards to Somalia. EU NAVFOR confirmed the case only in the late afternoon of 29. September. Information from the ground says a pirate group from Brawa had captured the vessel and at first it was reported that the vessel was heading towards Harardheere at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast, while the tanker had first contact at the Somali coast near Hobyo and was then commandeered further north. The vessel is managed by ISM manager OMCI SHIPMANAGEMENT PVT LTD from Mumbai and owned by BITUMEN INVEST AS from Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, who uses INTER GLOBAL SHIPPING LTD from Sharjah, United Arab Emirates as ship-handler. The Government of India and other authorities are informed. Concerning the condition of the crew so far no casualties or injuries are reported, but the vessel seems to have had an engine problem. Negotiations had commenced but have so far not been reaching anywhere. Vessel and crew were held off Kulub at the North-Eastern Indian Ocean coast of Somalia, then had been transfered southwards to Ceel Gaan in the Harardheere area at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast with negotiations still stuck and the crew reportedly having no more food, clean water and diesel.
FV NN IRAN : Seized October 01, 2010. The Iranian fishing vessel with her 13 crew was attacked by Somali pirates when sailing together with another Iranian fishing vessel. One of the two Iranian boats escaped, but one with 13 crew mebers is still missing and is wanted.
FV AL FAHAD : Seized October 11, 2010. Many more Iranian fishing vessel were over time actually held by Somali gangs than listed, since their cases and the fate of their sailors are in most cases not officially reported – neither by Iran nor the Western navies.
Sources with detailed knowledge from Iran stated after the release of one Iranian fishing vessel without ransom but actually a reward paid to their captain for good assistance during piracy operations of other vessels at the end of October 2010, that at least one other Iranian fishing vessels is held at present near Garacad. How many were seized for illegal fishing in Somali waters or how many were sea-jacked just to use them as piracy launch or to press ransom could so far not clearly be established.
One Indian Navy vessel not involved in anti-piracy operations received a distress call from a merchant vessel pointing out it had spotted pirate skiffs with the Al-Fahad. The naval vessel on research mission intercepted on 10. December 2010.
“Six skiffs, with outboard motors, an AK-47 with ammunition, gas cylinders and fuel was found on board the dhow after it was intercepted… the pirate boat was then disabled,” said an officer. Indian naval sources maintained that the Dhow had not been sunk.
According to those Indian naval sources there were 31 people on board. Unfortunately the Indian navy ship must not have realized that this was a sea-jacked vessel and let the Somalis and allegedly Yemeni men on board sail away after they destroyed the so called pirate-paraphernalia.
It also becomes obvious that crews collaborate with pirates to use their ships as transporters, pirate launches or even as attack vessels.
Allegedly the vessel flies now a flag from Yemen and Indian naval sources maintain the vessel was not sunk.
Though some naval sources in the region doubt the Indian report, the vessel therefore has to be kept on the list of sea-jacked ships.
MSV ZOULFICAR : Seized on October 19, 2010. This is a motorized sailing dhow, which was captured near the Socotra archipelago. It must not be mixed with the case of earlier pirated Comorian MV ALY ZOULFECAR, which is free. Yemen authorities stated that it would not be a Yemeni vessel, but could possibly be from Iran. Number of crew is not known and further details awaited.
MSV AL-NASSR : Seized October 28, 2010 off Socotra.The motorized Dhow was captured on October 28, 2010 at 11h56 UTC (14h56 local time) in position 12:08N – 054:25E off Socotra Island, Somalia, according to the IMB Piracy reporting centre. Once a British protectorate, along with the remainder of the Mahra State of Qishn and Socotra and being a strategic important point, the four islands making the Archipelago of Socotra were accorded by the UN in 1967 to Yemen, though they are very close to the mainland of the very tip of north-eastern Somalia. Several of the female lineages of the inhabitants on the island, notably those in mtDNA haplogroup N, are reportedly found nowhere else on earth. The Dhow with presently unknown flag and about 10 crew is heading now towards the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor of the Gulf of Aden (IRTC) and is likely to be used as pirate-base and/or decoy to capture a larger vessel. Further reports are awaited.
MT POLAR : Seized Oct. 30, 2010. Armed pirates in two skiffs boarded and sea-jacked the Liberian-owned product tanker MT POLAR (IMO 9299563) with 24 crew members aboard in the very early morning hours at 01h40 UTC (04h30 local time on 30. October 2010 in position 12:12N – 064:53E. The incident occurred according to the Piracy Reporting Centre 633nm east of Socotra island, off Somalia; or 684 miles (1,100 kilometres) east of the Indian Ocean island of Socotra according to EU NAVFOR. According to a EU NAVFOR statement the owners of the Panamanian-flagged 72,825 dwt vessel MV POLAR, Herculito Maritime Ltd, confirmed early Saturday that pirates are in command of the ship, which was en route from St. Petersburg and Kronstadt to Singapore with a cargo of fuel oil.
While it is undisputed that the ship originally had 24 crew members, EU NAVFOR reported one Romanian, three Greek nationals, four nationals from Montenegro and 16 Filipinos, but according to the ICSW (International Committee on Seafarer’s Welfare) there are three Greek nationals, 16 Pinoy seafarers, three from Montenegro and one Romanian as well as one Serb. In connection with this case AFP concluded that though naval powers have deployed dozens of warships to patrol the region’s waters they have failed to stem piracy, one of the few thriving businesses for coastal communities in a country devastated by war and poverty. According to reports from Somalia the already sea-jacked Iranian fishing vessel from Hobyo was used to capture this vessel in tandem with covering VLCC SHAMHO DREAM. Allegedly the captain of the Iranian fishing vessel thereafter received money from the pirates and was released with his vessel and crew.
Paradise Navigation S.A. is a Panamanian registered company, established in Greece under law 89
Constantinos Tsakiris is the Chairmman and Managing Director of Paradise Navigation SA, a shipping management company established in Greece and founded back in 1968, as Navipower Compania Naviera SA, by the Tsakiris family, a traditional Greek ship-owning and operating family.
Constantinos Tsakiris is the Chairmman and Managing Director of Paradise Navigation SA, a shipping management company established in Greece and founded back in 1968, as Navipower Compania Naviera SA, by the Tsakiris family, a traditional Greek ship-owning and operating family.
MT POLAR had reached the Somali coast in the morning of 30. October and was held off Hobyo. On Monday, 22. November 2010 one Filipino seafarer was reported by the Seafarers Network from Greece to have died allegedly of a heart attack.
At 02h33UTC on 23 November 2010, MV POLAR was reported in position 07°49N 055°53E – apparently on a piracy mission.
At 19h40 UTC on 25. November 2010, MV POLAR was observed in position 09 29N 068 44E, course 258, speed 12.6 kts. The pirated vessel was conducting piracy operations, using the surviving crew members as human shield, was briefly back and held off Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast, but is then was conducting again pirate operations. MV POLAR was observed at 16h38 UTC on 10. March 2011 in position 06 36 N 051 20 38 E on a course of 079 with speed 10 kts possibly acting as pirate launch.
Thereafter the vessel returned to the coast and is held since the beginning of April 2011 at Ceel Caduur north of Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast.
SY CHOIZIL : Seized 26. October 2010. South-African owned SY CHOIZIL was sea-jacked after having left Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Though news through the seafarer’s network had broken much earlier, the case was officially only confirmed on 08. November. The yacht is owned and was sailed by South African skipper Peter Eldridge from Richards Bay on the northeast coast of KwaZulu Natal, who escaped after the yacht was commandeered to Somalia, while his South African team-mates Bruno Pelizzari (aka Pekezari), in his 50’s, with partner Deborah from Durban were taken off the boat and are still held hostage on land in Somalia. Several questions remain still unanswered, though after the return of the skipper to South-Africa it was officially stated that the yacht had been abducted off Kenya this is still conflicting with other naval reports. Since the own yacht of the abducted couple is still moored at the harbour in Dar es Salaam it could well be that they only joined or actually hired skipper Eldridge first for a short trip north to Kenya.
Both present hostages, Bruno Pelizzari and his girlfriend “Debbie”, Deborah Calitz, were on board when the yacht under the command of Peter Endrigde allegedly heading south to Richards Bay from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania on October 21 or 22. Together with the skipper and owner of the yacht, the trio were said at first to have then encountered the pirates on 31. October 2010 in the open sea.
At least one of the attacking pirates appeared to have been from Tanzania and spoke KiSwahili. However, the sloop rigged sailing yacht set up for long distance cruising was then commandeered to Somalia by five Somalis – apparently with the aim to reach Harardheere at the Central Somali coast.
When observers had on 04. November a sighting of a yacht near the Bajuni Island of Koyaama at the Southern coast of Somalia, the search for a missing yacht was on in order to identify the boat and the sailors, but neither the Seychelles nor the network of yachts-people reported any missing yacht, though at that point already even the involvement of a second yacht was not ruled out.
Navies were then trailing the yacht at least since 04. November.
The fleeing yacht was on 06. November forced by the pursuing navies to come close to Baraawa (Brawa). There the yacht had “officially” again been located by the EU NAVFOR warship FS FLOREAL when it was “discovered to be sailing suspiciously close to shore”, so the statement. Despite numerous unsuccessful attempts to contact the yacht, including a flypast by the warship’s helicopter, allegedly no answer was received and the French warship launched her boarding team to investigate further, a EU NAVFOR statement revealed and it was also officially stated that they had received a Mayday signal. Why only then the emergency call was sent and not much earlier, has so far not been explained.
After a direct chase by naval forces escalating the situation and the yacht running aground, SY CHOIZIL’s skipper Peter reportedly jumped over board during a close naval swoop, when also shots were fired and a naval helicopter and a commando team in a speedboat were engaged. Other reports state the owner of the yacht, Peter Eldridge, managed to escape when he refused to leave the boat he built with his own hands 20 years ago. Officials now put it as “the yacht’s skipper refused to cooperate” – usually a call for immediate and even deadly response in any hostage situation the world over where armed assailants are involved.
However, Peter Eldridge was later picked up by the French navy and was placed into safety on a Dutch naval vessel. He is confirmed to be a South-African by nationality and his next of kin were informed immediately. After he then arrived at the Kenyan harbour of Mombasa on board the Dutch warship, he was handed over to South African officials and brought to Kenya’s capital Nairobi, from where he returned to South-Africa.
Peter Eldridge, who was a member of the Zululand Yacht Club which uses the Richards Bay Harbour as its base, stated later: “The yacht was attacked by pirates – all men aged between 15 and 50 – on October 26,” and thereafter: “They demanded money. They took the money that Deborah and Pelizzari were carrying for their families. They demanded more and we told them that we did not have more because we were ordinary people.”
Andrew Mwangura, co-ordinator of the East African Seafarers Assistance Programme, said earlier he assumed the yacht had been towed to Mombasa as could have been expected with all the naval presence, but at the same time ECOTERRA Intl. received information from their marine monitors in Somalia saying the yacht was left behind by the naval forces and was at that time drifting. Peter Eldridge’s wife, Bernadette, told later the South African Times that she did not know whether her husband Peter would return to Somalia to retrieve what’s left of his yacht, SY Choizil, which was run aground during the incident. It is, however, unclear how official statements and the owner himself can speak of “having resisted to the pirates” and insisting that he “was not leaving his yacht alone”, when at the same time he must have left it to be rescued by the navy.
“We only can hope that the different reports speaking of the killing of one man, whereby at present nobody can say if that had been caused by the naval interaction or by the pirates or if it is mixed with another case, will turn out to be not correct at all,” a spokesman from ECOTERRA Intl. said on 07. November and added: “and we hope and urge the local elders to ensure that the innocent woman and man will be set free immediately. Since the Al-Shabaab administration, who governs vast areas in Southern Somalia, where the ancient coastal town of Baraawe (Brawa) is located, had earlier openly condemned any act of piracy, it is hoped that a safe and unconditional release of the hostages can be achieved.”
The naval command of the European Operation Atalanta stated on 09. November that the whereabouts of the other two crew members was “currently unknown, despite a comprehensive search by an EU NAVFOR helicopter.”
Karl Otto of the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Cape Town stated that the Department of International Relations and Co-operation was handling the hostage situation.
International Relations and Co-operation spokesperson Saul Kgomotso Molobi confirmed this on 10. November and said the pirates had not yet made any ransom demand.
While the families of the Durban couple are sick with worry while they wait to hear from the kidnappers, the skipper’s wife said: “We have been restricted from giving out more information. I have been told not to say more,” but did not want to reveal who had told her to keep quiet.
South African High Commissioner Ndumiso Ntshinga said he is in constant contact with authorities in Somalia who are involved in the search for Bruno Pelizzari and his girlfriend.
Ntshinga indicated that maybe the story that the were taken off Kenya – as the Seychelles had claimed – is not correct, by saying: “We have always believed that their reach was mostly around Somalia but if they are going to be going down to the Gulf of Mozambique then it is worrying,” said Ntshinga. Naval sources not with EU NAVFOR had earlier stated the attack was at the boundary between Tanzania and Kenya while other naval sources had spoke of the boundary between Tanzania and Mozambique.
After two weeks into the crisis the South African government still stated only: “At this point in time we do not know where they are. We have instructed our consulate to handle the matter,” foreign ministry spokesman Malusi Mogale told AFP.
Director of Consular Services at the International Relations Department, Albie Laubscher, said all they can do is wait.
“The situation is that we are expecting the pirates to make contact in some way or another.”
Information from Somalia says that the couple was held then for a few days held firth south and then inside Brawa but thereafter was moved to an undisclosed location.
For the Government of South Africa Mr. Albie Laubscher, the director of consular services at the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, said the families of the Durban couple had been briefed that the hostage drama could be a long, drawn-out affair. He said it was government policy not to pay ransom.
The escaped skipper Peter Eldridge maintains that they had been sea-jacked off the Kenyan coast, but failed to explained why they were there instead on their planned route to the South from Dar es Salaam.
A friend of Pelizzari, Jason Merle, said the former elevator technician had decided about four years ago to sell his house and build a yacht. ‘He and Debbie invested their lives in that boat, which is now docked in Dar es Salaam, waiting for them to come back to Tanzania,’ Merle said. ‘They don’t have any money. Neither does the family. Ransom is going to be pointless. They’re not going to get anything out of that couple. The only thing they have is that yacht and a laptop.’
The abducted yacht SY CHOIZIL is still held at the Somali coast, while the couple is now said to be held somewhere in the area of Somalia’s embattled capital Mogadishu.
In an effort to send the message to pirates that Deborah is African born and should not be treated like a European or an American, Deborah’s brother Dale van der Merwe has denied media reports his sister was of British or Italian descent.
‘She does not have any British ties and has never set foot in Britain. We are worried that should her captors read this… it may skew their perception of who Debbie really is and try attach values to her as it was done in the case of the recently released British Chandler couple.’
He said the couple were ‘ordinary workers’. They had been sailing for almost two years, stopping at ports on Africa’s coast to ‘visit and do occasional work’. See: http://yachtpals.com/node/12445
‘Anyone who knows or meets them (including their captors) will see that they are gentle and kind people who are not interested in politics but only love sailing, ‘ he said and added ‘Debbie and Bruno will help anyone regardless of their politics, religion, nationality or race, and frequently at their own cost. They are just fellow Africans who work hard and have a passion for sailing.”
The family asked the couple’s captors to keep them unharmed and release them back to their families and children, whom they have not seen for so long.
The Dutch Navy detained two groups of Somalis during the last week of November, believing those arrested could be involved in the abduction of Bruno Pelizzari and his girlfriend Deborah Calitz. The people on board of two different skiffs threw their guns overboard when they realised they were about to be attacked by a naval force. But only skipper Peter Eldridge would be able to confirm whether any of the suspects were involved in the attack. Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme said fishermen and coastal traders also carried weapons in these dangerous waters and the Dutch Navy could have the wrong men and add to the complications. The Kenyan and the South-African government had refused to accept the men for prosecution, since there was no evidence, and the Dutch Navy was for days in limbo – not knowing what to do with them. Then on 05 November five of these Somalis were flown on a military plane to Eindhoven, in the south of the Netherlands to stand trial in Rotterdam for abducting the two South Africans from their yacht. The five were among some 20 suspected pirates rounded up last month in two separate operations. The other 15 were released due to a lack of evidence at an undisclosed location and their case is seen by human rights lawyers as illegal arrest and possible refoulement.
After now more than one month the South African government maintains that no ransom demands have been made, but has not stated if there was no contact or if other demands were brought forward.
According to South African officials there was still no sign of the South African couple captured by pirates off the coast of Somalia at the end of November and Carte Blanche spoke to their Durban-based families, who are concerned that there’ve been no ransom demands.
International Relations spokesman Clayson Monyela said on 10. December that the kidnappers have yet to make contact with the South African government or the relatives of Bruno Pelizzari and his partner, Deborah Calitz.
It seems that the first contact possibilities were lost by the South-African officials.
The daughter of Mrs. Calitz also appealed to the captors to at least come forward and start talks on a release.
But after two months, on Thursday, 25. December 2010, Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Clayson Monyela still could only say: “There is nothing new on the South African couple who were hijacked by Somali pirates.” Mrs. Calitz’ brother Dale van der Merwe said: “The situation stays unchanged, we are still waiting for information.
Skipper Peter Eldridge was in January 2011 interviewed by police and court officials in the Netherlands on the case and reportedly testified that the attack had happened off Tanzania and not off Kenya, as he allegedly had stated to South African officials earlier, who issued this as statement. As South African media reported, Eldridge stated that he also looked at photographs of the accused men and identified some of them as the pirates who had hijacked the Choizil. Why he was not taken through a proper process of identification and raises questions for the defence lawyers.
As of mid January 2011 communication lines seem to have been established with those who hold the couple now and the yacht is used off Barawa to shuttle from and to the illegal dhows, who load charcoal at the coastal town for illegal export. While the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia has no say in that area also the Islamist Al Shabaab administration seems to do nothing against this illegal trade, which also has been termed haram already by several Muslim scholars.
An article by a South-African media house exaggerating the ransom demands while quoting unnamed sources of so-called family friends, was not only rubbished in South-Africa but also from circles close those, who hold the couple in the moment. Andrew Mwangura, officer of the Seafarer’s Assistance Program, and frequent reporter on pirate issues, had earlier said that the pirates could be persuaded to take a smaller sum. It seems that unscrupulous brokers and media have no restraint in trying to hype up the story.
However, the brother of Mrs. Calitz said on 31. January 2011 that any ransom demand for his sister was “pointless” unless he could speak to her. Dale van der Merwe said he had asked telephone callers demanding a USD10 million (R70m) ransom for the release of his sister Deborah Calitz for proof that she was alive. “I said to them: ‘If you really are who you say who you are, then let me speak to her.’ They said no.” And van der Merwe appealed again: “We are asking you to please let them go… They are just ordinary Africans like yourselves with similar problems, we are not rich.”
International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Director General, Clayson Monyela, said the department was doing its part to ensure the safe return of the two, while also the calls of the three daughters of Deborah Calitz to free their mother have so far not been responded to by the kidnappers.
While the official line of the South African Government to not negotiate or pay ransoms remains unchanged, in mid February 2011 a second brother of Mrs. Calitz – Kevin van der Merwe who lives in Auckland, New Zealand – broke the silence and called for a public funds-drive to enable the family to make an offer for a release to the Somali hostage takers, who hold them now. He said time was running out and they had to do something, adding: ”I am very worried about them mentally and physically.”
A trust account was being set up and he said even the smallest donation would help.
MSV AL BOGARI : Sighted November 7, 2010, as being hijacked, no further data.
MV YUAN XIANG : Seized November 12, 2010. The Chinese-owned general cargo ship MV YUAN XIANG (IMO 7609192) carrying 29 sailors of Chinese nationality was seized during the night by an unknown number of pirates in the Arabian Sea in position 18:02.55N – 066:03.39E – around 680nm east of Salalah, Oman. An act of piracy was then confirmed on 12.11.2010 at 07h01 UTC.
The CMRC was reportedly unable to get in touch with the hijacked ship and the fate of the sailors remained unclear, Xinhua said, adding that the attacked occurred outside a region protected by a multinational forces, including China’s navy. The vessel was for a certain time at Xabo (Habo) at the Gulf of Aden coast but was then commandeered around the Horn into the Indian Ocean and held off Dhanane, south of Garacad at the North-Eastern coast. Meanwhile it was transferred to Ceel Caduur north of Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast of Somalia. Negotiations seem to not making real progress.
COMORAN FV : Seized on November 18, 2010. The Comoros-flagged fishing vessel with a two man crew was confirmed sea-jacked inside the territorial waters of the Comoros. So far the identity of the vessel has not been released and the fate of the crew is not known.
MV ALBEDO : Seized on November 26, 2010. The Malaysia-flagged box-ship MV ALBEDO (IMO 9041162) en route from Jebel Ali in the UAE to Mombasa in Kenya was boarded in the early morning hours and an alarm was raised at 03h00 UTC (06h00 LT) in position 05:38N – 068:27E, which is around 255 nm west of the Maldives group of islands. The master had reported to the Malaysian owners already on that fateful Friday that pirates were on-board and his vessel was hijacked. That information was then forwarded to to the navies. However, EU NAVFOR confirmed only 3 days later on mid-Monday that the vessel was captured. Why EU NAVFOR only reported so late is not known, but maybe because a Danish Navy frigate was sailing Saturday to the rescue of the German freighter MCL Bremen, a multi-purpose 130-metre freighter, which was nearby attacked by pirates. But following standard procedures, the whole crew barricaded themselves in a secret room and the attackers later left that vessel before the warship arrived and MLC BREMEN is reportedly sailing free.
The sea-jacked 1,066-TEU container vessel MV ALBEDO has a crew of 23 sailors. Six hail from Sri Lanka and others from Pakistan, Iran and Bangladesh. Registered owner and manager is MAJESTIC ENRICH SHIPPING SDN, which was incorporated on January 25, 2008 as a private limited company under the name of Majestic Enrich Sdn Bhd in Malaysia by Iranian shipping executives and on April 3 changed its name to Majestic Enrich Shipping Sdn Bhd.
The vessel is held now south of Ceel Gaan at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast off Harardheere, had been used briefly used for a spin at the beginning of April, but returned to the same place. Negotiations ran reportedly into problems.
FV KANTARI 12 : Seized before November 30, 2010. The vessel was used to capture FV LAKMALI and FV LAKMINI 03.
Since FV KANTARI 12 at first had not arrived at the Somali coast, it was feared that they would probably conduct mothership operations around the 15North-60East area, which was later confirmed.
Further reports concerning the whereabouts of this vessel are awaited.
The two kidnapped Sri Lankan fishermen, Mr. Lal Fernando and Mr. Sugath Fernando, from the earlier released FV LAKMALI, which was sea-jacked by the sea-gang on FV KANTARI 12 and then held hostage on MV HANNIBAL II have been released together with the Tunisian vessel and did reach safely Djibouti and noww home in Sri Lanka.
However, FV KANTARI 12 is still wanted.
FV NN IRAN (Reg: 4/3810) : Seized December 07, 2010. The Iranian fishing vessel with the Registration Number 4/3810 and her crew of 18 was allegedly seized by Somali pirates together with a second Iranian fishing vessel and since then is missing and wanted.
FV NN IRAN (Reg: 4/3386) : Seized December 07, 2010. The Iranian fishing vessel with the Registration Number 4/3386 and her crew of 11 was allegedly seized by Somali pirates together with a second Iranian fishing vessel and since then is missing and wanted.
MV MSC PANAMA : Seized December 10, 2010. At 12h12 UTC (09h12 LT) on 10 December 2010 the U.S.-owned container vessel MSC PANAMA (IMO: 8902125) was reported to be under attack by an armed group of in total five sea-shifta in two skiffs on board in position 09°57S 041°46E. A Rocket Propelled Grenade was used during the attack which occurred approximately 80 nautical miles east of the Tanzanian/Mozambique border. On the afternoon of 10 December, the merchant vessel was then confirmed pirated and in position Latitude: 10°00S Longitude: 041°51E.
The boxship was en route from Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) to Beira (Mozambique) when the attack occurred.
This southerly attack in the Western Indian Ocean is a further example of the constantly expanding area of pirate activity, triggered by naval activities in the Gulf of Aden and close to the Somali shores and apparently also serving an agenda of implicating more and more regional countries. Apparently one of the the previously sea-jacked fishing vessels was used in the attack.
The 26,288 dwt MCS PANAMA is a Liberian flagged container ship, operated by SHIP MANAGEMENT SERVICES INC from Coral Gables Florida, a US based company and an affiliate of Ultrapetrol, fronting for registered owner EURUS BERLIN LLC. SMS shares an office, address, and employee roster with US-listed owner Ultrapetrol’s management subsidiary, Ravenscroft Ship Management. It is said to be an Eastwind container ship, whereby it was noted that Eastwind Maritime Inc., a Marshall Islands Corporation filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in the Southern District of New York on June 24th, 2009 (Case No. 09-14047 – ALG).
The 1,743-teu box ship has a crew of 23 seafarers, who all are from Myanmar (Burma).
“The Somali pirates let the Burmese crewmen call their families three days ago. All said they were in good health and told their families not to worry about them,” an official at the Rangoon branch of St. John’s Ship Management said on condition of anonymity to Mizzima News.
Although the crewmen were not in mortal danger, they needed to keep their spirits up while being held by the pirates, Htay Aung, a central executive committee member of the junta-supported Myanmar Overseas Seafarers’ Association, said.
The release of the MSC Panama and the crewmen would depend on the negotiations between the pirates and the company and such talks normally takes more than two months, Thai-based Seafarers’ Union of Burma official Aung Thura told Mizzima. His union has been outlawed by the Burmese ruling military junta.
The vessel arrived in Somalia and is held now south of Ceel Gaan at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast off Harardheere, close to MV ALBEDO.
MV RENUAR : Seized: December 11, 2010. As ECOTERRA Intl. reported the cargo vessel was captured on 11. December 2010 at around 05h40 UTC in position 06:09N – 067:19E, which is approximately 360nm SW of Minicoy Island, 1,200nm from Mogadishu in Somalia and 550nm off the Indian coast. On 13. November also NATO finally confirmed and stated the capesize bulker was captured at position Latitude: 06°11N Longitude: 067°25E. EU NAVFOR had earlier confirmed our reports on 12. December.
Panama-flagged MV RENUAR is a bulk cargo vessel with a dead-weight of 70,156 tonnes and was en route to Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates from Port Louis in Mauritius when it was captured on Saturday, EU NAVFOR confirmed and stated: “The pirates have confirmed that they have control of the ship which is now heading west towards the Somali coast.” The EU said it was a Liberian-owned vessel.
But Europe’s best ship register states that CANDY ENT INC from Greece is the registered owner and MARYVILLE MARITIME INC from Greece the manager. Though the Greek ship register is notoriously in shambles, it is not known how EU NAVFOR did arrive at the conclusion that the vessel would be Liberian owned.
The pirates launched the attack from 2 skiffs, supported by a mother ship, with fire of small arms and rocket propelled grenades forcing the merchant vessel to stop. The bulker has a 24-man all-Filipino crew, who attempted to evade the pirates for some time, causing the pirates to make several attacks before finally boarding the vessel. One of the pirates had died during the attack – marine observers reported yesterday.
That at present more and more of the previously already captured fast fishing vessels are used to launch far-reaching attacks is widely known and analysts can not understand why these vessels are not tracked better by the navies.
The bulk carrier MV RENUAR (IMO9042221) is at present commandeered to the Somali coast, but naval centres stated that they had at that moment no communications with the ship and that the condition of the crew is not known.
The Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines said it was working to ensure the safety of 24 Filipino seafarers on board the Panama-flagged vessel MV Renuar. In a release posted on its website on Monday, the DFA’s Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) said that it has instructed Capt. Gaudencio Collado, Philippine Liaison Officer to the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) in Manama, Bahrain to assist in the rescue efforts and that the European Union Naval Forces (EU NAVFOR) will attempt a rescue before the vessel, now en route to Somalia, reaches Somali waters.
Analysts, however, see such sabre-rattling as rather unfortunate and advised that the DFA should better look into the policy, which once had stopped Filipino seafarers from signing on with ships plying such dangerous routes.
DFA Undersecretary Esteban Conejos Jr. also instructed Collado to convey to the EU NAVFOR the Philippine Government’s “paramount concern” for the safety of the Filipino crew members. The OUMWA likewise called on the Philippine Embassy in Athens to convey the same message to the vessel’s Greece-based owner. The crew had locked themselves in a compartment but were later overwhelmed and the pirates are in control of the vessel. The captain contacted a humanitarian organization and reported that the crew is all right. The ship arrived on 20. December south of Garacad at the North-Eastern Somali Indian Ocean coast and is now held at Ceel Dhanaane with slow negotiations for the release.
FV NN IRAN (Reg: 4/3916) : Seized December 11, 2010. The Iranian fishing vessel with the Registration Number 4/3916 and her unknown number of crew was allegedly seized by Somali pirates together with a second Iranian fishing vessel and since then is missing and wanted.
MSV SALIM AMADI : Seized December 15, 2010. The motorized cargo dhow of most likely Indian origin was seized at 10h00 LT (07h00 UTC) some 70nm from Bosaso on her way from Dubai to this harbour town of the regional state of Puntland in Somalia. Most likely involved also in a business dispute. Number of crew and their fate is not yet known.
MV ORNA : Seized December 20, 2010. The UAE-owned, Panama-flagged bulker MV ORNA (IMO 8312162) was in the morning of 20. December 2010 at 08h29LT (11h29 UTC) reported under attack by pirates in position Latitude: 01°46S Longitude: 060°32E.The bulk carrier was under way to India from Durban and is laden with coal.
NATO reported that the attack was launched from 2 attack skiffs, with pirates firing small arms and rocket propelled grenades at the merchant vessel en route in the Indian Ocean, approximately 400 nautical miles North East of the island-state of the Seychelles. The vessel was stopped and boarded by at least 4 pirates.
The bulk carrier was then pirated, EU NAVFOR confirmed later and that the number o f crew on board was unknown.
The crew is co-operating and no damage is reported, the EU statement reads, which also stated that MV ORNA was not registered with the naval centres of MSCHOA or UKMTO.
The MV ORNA is a Panama flagged, UAE owned bulk cargo vessel with a dead weight of 27,915 tonnes.
The vessels safety management certificate had been withdrawn by Nippon Kaiji Kyokai already on 14. October this year and the crew is also not covered by an ITF agreement, but unlike other UAE-owned vessels it has still at least an insurance with Sveriges Angfartys Assurans Forening (Swedish Club). Ship manager SWEDISH MANAGEMENT CO SA in Dubai fronts for registered owner SIRAGO SHIPMANAGEMENT SA.There are 19 sailors on board and the crew comprises of one Sri Lankan and 18 Syrians.
The owner of Kassab Intershipping-Swedish Management, Capt Abdul Kadar, said that the cargo ship MV Orna was carrying 26,500 tonnes of coal from Durban, South Africa and was enroute to Okha, India, when it was hijacked.
The vessel is at present commandeered towards the Somali coast.
Capt Kassab said that “the ship was expected to reach the Somali waters by [that] Friday and then only we can start negotiations. Past experiences show that the pirates start negotiations only after reaching their home country’s shores.”
The vessel did arrive and is held together with the crew off Hobyo.
MV THOR NEXUS : Seized December 25, 2010. In the early hours of 25 December, the general cargo vessel MV THOR NEXUS (IMO 8712491) was pirated approximately 450 nautical miles North East of the island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean. EU NAVFOR confirmed earlier reports, which had reached in the morning the East African Seafarers Assistance Programme in Mombasa.
The vessel was actually taken at 01h40 UTC (04h40 LT) in position 16°01 N – 060°12 E.
The 20,377 tonne general cargo ship, which is Thai flagged and owned, was on her way to Bangladesh from Jebel Ali in the UAE at the time of the attack. No details of the attack were known to EU NAVFOR at that stage
The 27 crew on board are all from Thailand.
The vessel is carrying 15,750 tonnes of fertiliser to Bangladesh, a director of the local agent of the Thai bulk carrier stated and explained that the government of Saudi Arabia was sending the fertiliser as part of an agreement with the Bangladesh government. Manjur Alam Chowdhury, director of Hai Shipping Limited, said the hijacked ship was carrying the last shipment of the agreed donation. The value of the fertiliser is Tk 44 crore, said Majharul Haq Milon, deputy manager (Chittagong region) of Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC). The ship was due to reach Chittagong on December 30.
THORESEN & CO BANGKOK LTD serves as ship manager of the vessel for THOR NEXUS SHIPPING in Bangkok, Thailand and its P&I insurers are The West of England Shipowners. Unfortunately the crew seems not to be covered by an ITF agreement. Pacific International Lines (PIL) incorporated in 1967 has developed from a coastal ship-owner/operator in Singapore to become one of the largest shipowners in Asia. Today, it is ranked 19th amongst the top container-ship operators in the world and owns 123 vessels. Their ship Kota Wajar was hijacked in the Indian Ocean last October by Somali pirates, served for a short while as prison for a kidnapped British sailor-couple, was abused as the first larger merchant vessel as piracy launch on piracy missions and was held for more than 2 months before ship and crew were released.
Thailand’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs is actively trying to help the crew aboard a Thai vessel seized by Somali pirates Friday in the Arabian Sea, a senior ministry official, Thani Thongpakdi the director-general of the foreign ministry’s Information Department, said on Monday.
Mr Thani said the company owning the vessel has informed the families of the crew and asked the Royal Thai Navy to inform the special Thai naval task force combating piracy and armed robbery to closely monitor the affair.
The Royal Thai Navy earlier sent 350 Thai navy personnel on a 98-day operation as part of the international naval force combating piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia.
The director-general added that so far they have not yet told the ship owner of their demands for any ransom.
The foreign ministry has instructed the Thai embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and in Muscat, Oman to do the best of their abilities to help secure the release of the Thai crew, Mr Thani said, adding that both countries are believed to have influence over the waterways in the region and that they may have some channels to communicate with the pirates to help secure the release of the Thai nationals.
An unnamed top military commander in Thailand called on the pirates to release the vessel, warning that the Thai army would attack the pirates and release the ship and all its crew members, a Press TV correspondent reported.
The commander also explained that the government policy in Thailand would not allow ransom pay to criminals.
Meanwhile, a source close to the Somali hijackers said the pirates would kill the hostages should Bangkok refuse to pay the ransom demanded, the report stated, showing a fake picture of an alleged pirate from the Far-East Malacca Straits area.
However, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the Royal Thai Navy had ascertained the position of the vessel and one of its craft had followed it at a distance. He asked the navy to be very careful for the sake of the crew’s safety.
Actually, the pirates radioed HTMS Similan, which is operating in the Indian Ocean to protect Thai ships and is following the seized vessel, to say they would kill the crew of the Thor Nexus if the navy ship approached closer than 20 nautical miles.
Navy chief Kamthorn Phumhiran has ordered his subordinates in the Arabian Sea to take “decisive action” when they have a suitable opportunity – defined as the moment when officers have ascertained the safety of the Thai crew members.
Navy chief of staff Thagerngsak Wangkaew said helicopter surveillance had confirmed the 27 Thai crew members were being held on the bridge of their vessel to prevent an attack or rescue action. The surveillance revealed there were 12 armed pirates.
The Thai navy has wrapped up its anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden on 06. January, despite the fact that 27 Thai crew remain captive on a cargo ship seized by Somali pirates. Admiral Takerngsak Wangkaew, the navy’s chief of staff, said yesterday the navy had decided to end its mission after failing to make progress in negotiations for the return of the Thai-flagged cargo ship. The navy insisted it had ensured the 27 Thai crew taken hostage on board the ship were safe before the decision was made to head home, which was a rather ridiculous styatement. “The company that owns the ship will continue the negotiations,” Adm Takerngsak said. The MV Thor Nexus is owned by Thoresen Thai Agencies.
The vessel was first held off Garacad at the North-Eastern coast, was then brought towards Hobyo but is now moored at Ceel Dhanaane at the North Eastern Somali Indian Ocean coast, while negotiations for her release had actually commenced, but no resolution been reached.
FV SHIUH FU No. 1 : Seized December 25, 2010. At 10h30 UTC on 25. December 2010, the white hulled fishing vessel Shiuh Fu No.1 – CT7 0256 (ID58582) was reported by NATO as sea-jacked by pirates in position 12°58S – 051°52E around 120nm east of Nosy Ankao, Madagascar. A previously hijacked merchant ship was reported to be in the vicinity during the hijacking of the fishing vessel. It was then at 11h15 UTC observed to act as piracy launch in position 12°58S – 51°51E, while cruising 293° at a speed of 1 kts.
Its 29 sailor crew consists of 1 Taiwanese, 14 Vietnamese and 14 Chinese.
The Republic of China flagged, 700 to long-liner, owned by SHIUH FU FISHERY CO., LTD. of Kaohsiung in Taiwan is apparently licensed by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC NO. 900070256) to fish in these waters.
Further reports state that the vessel, which shows on it’s side in large letters BI2256, was commandeered further south was observed on 26. December 2010 heading 172º with a speed of 10 knots at position 15°23’42.00″S, 52°14’45.60″E. The vessel has a powerful 1,200 HP engine and can run faster, which makes it a serious threat concerning possible pirate-attacks against merchant vessels in the area.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said in a press release it had launched an emergency mission and instructed Taiwan’s representative office in Cape Town, South Africa to seek assistance from the government of Madagascar.
There has been no communication since Dec. 25 with the Shiuh Fu No. 1, said Samuel Chen (陳士良), director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of African Affairs.
On 28. December the vessel maintained its strange search- or forestalling-like pattern along Latitude 52 on the North-Eastern side of Madagascar.
But at 03h13 UTC on 29. December 2010, the Pirate Action Group with FV SHIUH FU NO.1 was then reported as going east in position 13 27S – 053 03E with course 102° at speed 9.1 kts.
Vice chief Dao Cong Hai of the Vietnamese Department for Management of Overseas Labor said on January 5 that the 12 Vietnamese workers were enrolled by three manpower exporting firms, named Inmasco, Servico and Van Xuan. All of them are from the central provinces of Nghe An and Ha Tinh. Hai said that the department had instructed the three firms to get in contact with the Taiwanese employer to get information about the Vietnamese sailors and communicate with the victims’ families. “This is an unexpected accident. The pirates need money. They need time to evaluate the ship to fix the ransom,” Hai said.
Local observers reported on 10. January 2010 that the vessel was moored off Ceel Gaan at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast of Harardheere, but thereafter took off again.
At 10h50 UTC on 14. Jan 2011, SHIUH FU No.1 acting as mothership, was reported in position 12°21N 055°56E, but it is now back and held off Ceel Caduur north of Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast. No proper contact seems to have been maintained between the owner and the captors.
CREW OF FV VEGA 5 : Seized before December 28, 2010. The small Mozambique-flagged long-liner FV VEGA 5, which was at first reported missing by her owner, was only confirmed as being pirated in the waters between Mozambique and Madagascar on 31. December.
After first being held in Somalia and the negotiations broke down the vessel was abused again on a mission, which was a mix of piracy spree and people trafficking. The vessel was intercepted on 09. March and fired upon by the Indian navy. After the military attack by the two warships set the vessel ablaze, the people jumped into the water. 74 people were fished out of the waters – 61 profiled as supernumerary (Somali or Yemeni) and 13 crew-members (one Indonesians and twelve Mozambicans). The original crew manning the 140-tonne fishing vessel were 2 Spaniards, 3 Indonesians and 19 Mozambicans. While reports from Mozambique say that all were Mozambicans, information released by Spain and later by India speak of 12 Mozambicans and one Indonesian. The two Spaniards had reportedly remained as hostages back in Somalia and the remaining 11 of the original 24 men crew are so far not yet accounted for.
Susana Carimo, wife of crew member Olivio Alves, cited by independent daily “O Pais”, said “I don’t know whether my husband is alive or dead, if he is among the 13 crew members rescued, or is still in Somali, or is floating somewhere in the water”.
Bibito Oliveira, the brother of Mozambican crew-member Olivio Oliveira, claimed that the Spanish ship-owner Pescamar is only paying the families of the 19 Mozambican hostages an allowance of 1,000 meticais (about 32 US dollars), a month, a sum that is grossly insufficient to maintain a family. But Mozambican Fisheries Minister Victor Borges said that in reality Pescamar is paying the families the full wages and allowances of the kidnapped crew members.
The two Galician Spaniards from the vessel – skipper Juan Alfonso Rey Echeverry, (45) and crew member Jose Alfonso Garcia Barreiro (53) – are reportedly held hostage near Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast.
25 of the 61 persons arrested from this vessel by the Indian navy (60 Somalis and one Ethiopian) are apparently children under the age of 15 years.
MSV AL WA’ALA : Seized on or around 01. January 2011. The Yemeni-flagged dhow was seajacked and immediately used as piracy launch. Around 10. March the vessel had a technical failure in the Arabian Sea and likewise commandeered VLCC IRENE SL went out to help. Some Somali pirates and 3 Yemeni crew were taken aboard the large oil carrier. The 3 Yemeni men were then exchanged with a navy vessel in a deal to return the body of a Somali pirate from VLCC IRENE SL, who had been seriously wounded earlier, was then handed to a naval ship, but died on the operation table. At the moment it is not known whether any pirates or crew stayed on AL WA’ ALA and what her current status is.
The vessel is wanted.
MV BLIDA : Seized January 01, 2010. At 15h36 UTC (12h36 LT) of New Year’s day, the bulk carrier MV BLIDA (IMO 7705635) was attacked by an armed Pirate Action Group of four men in one skiff, which had been launched from earlier pirated MV HANNIBAL II at position Latitude: 15 28N Longitude: 055 51E. The location is approximately 150 nautical miles South East of the port of Salalah, Oman. EU NAVFOR and NATO confirmed the sea-jacking.
The 20,586 tonne Bulk Carrier is Algerian flagged and owned. The vessel was on her way to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from Salalah in Oman at the time of the attack.
The bulker has a multinational crew of 27 seafarers (17 Algerian, 6 Ukrainian – incl. captain-, 2 Filipinos, 1 Indonesian and 1 Jordanian).
The official version is that the vessel is carrying a 24,000 tonnes cargo of Clinker.
MV BLIDA was registered for protection with MSC(HOA) but had not reported to UKMTO, EU NAVFOR stated, but did not explain why the vessel was not protected – especially because the vessel used as pirate-launch – MV HANNIBAL II – was reported earlier by NATO to be in the area.
Ship manager of MV BLIDA is SEKUR HOLDINGS INC of Piraeus, Greece and registered owner is INTERNATIONAL BULK CARRIER of Algeria.
The manager could for the first time on 05. January contact the Ukrainian captain who said the 27-member crew is safe, the Ukrainian foreign ministry in Kiev said. The captain of the Blida bulk carrier told the Greek manager that “no crew member had been injured” during the attack last Saturday and that the sailors were in “satisfactory” condition.
Shipping in Algeria is a government monopoly run by the Algerian state, the National Corporation for Maritime Transport and the Algerian National Navigation Company (Société Nationale de Transports Maritimes et Compagnie Nationale Algérienne de Navigation–SNTM-CNAN).
Earlier on 05. January, shipcharterer IBC said it had received no ransom demand from the unidentified pirates who seized the vessel.
“I don’t know who will pay, but I repeat that we have not received such a demand,” Nasseredine Mansouri, head of International Bulk Carriers (IBC), an Algerian-Saudi company specialising in maritime cargo transport, told AFP.
Justice Minister Tayeb Belaiz said on 06. January his country would not pay a ransom . Belaiz said in a statement to the press that Algeria was the first country to have “called, before the UN general assembly, for the payment of ransom to criminals and kidnappers to become a criminal act”. Paying ransom encourages criminals and finances terrorism, he said. “Algeria does not pay ransom,” he said adding that the kidnapped crew had been able to contact their families by telephone.
The vessel had arrived in Somalia and was moored off Garacad at the North-Eastern Indian Ocean coast of Somalia as marine observers reported, but then left for a piracy spree and was observed on 22. January 2011 in position Latitude: 09 54N Longitude: 052 56E with course 049 degrees and speed 8.6 kts conducting mother-ship operations.
The Somali pirates were urged to let the vessel go in solidarity with the people of Algeria, but still the vessel and crew are held at Ceel Caduur north of Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast, while negotiations have not really been forthcoming.
BARGE DN127 from T/B TIBA FOLK : Seized January 01, 2011. The small UAE-flagged offshore supply vessel TIBA FOLK (IMO 7403017), a tug-boat with 1978 dwt and towing the barge DN127 was attacked and fired upon north of the Seychelles and around 672 nautical miles east of Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast on New Years day.
when the small UAE-flagged offshore supply vessel TIBA FOLK (IMO 7403017) with 1978 dwt was attacked from two pirate skiffs and came under fire at 07h5 4UTC on New Years day in position Latitude 03 56N Longitude 059 33E, which is north of the Seychelles and around 672 nautical miles east of Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast, she was towing at least one barge.The tug had reportedly a cargo of valuable generators and it is said to have been protected by an armed security detail, but it is not know if the generators were on the barge or loaded on the supply vessel.
The barge with the registration DN127 was subsequently released from the tug to increase speed and manoeuvrability.
The barge was then pulled by likewise sea-jacked gas-tanker MT YORK towards Harardheere at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast and is moored there a little bit further off the coast not far from Ceel Gaan, according several local reports. On the barge, which also has a crane, are several shipping containers.
The barge was
Until today EU NAVFOR only confirmed that the barge was sea-jacked but didn’t release any detail about the attack and did neither report concerning the whereabouts of the tu, the crew or the security detail nor if in the shoot-out any of the personnel on the tug or any of the pirates had been injured or killed.
Likewise the shipowner FOLK SHIPPING LLC from Deira, Dubai, United Arab Emirates has not come clear on the fate of the tug and a possible second barge, which some sources say was abandoned and later taken by coalition naval forces.
One barge was observed by NATO at 05h11UTC on 03.January 2011 – i.e. three days after the incident – and described as ABANDONED in position Latitude: 03°21N Longitude: 057°18E.
The location around Ceel Gaan near Harardheere, which is south of Hobyo and at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast is an area now governed by fundamentalist Al-Shabab after their merger with Hezb-ul Islam. The barge, however, might not stay there but might be brought further North and towards Hobyo, local observers reported.
MSV SAADI : Seized in the beginning of January 2011. The hijacked Iranian-flagged dhow is in the moment in use as mothership in the Arabian Sea. The number of the Iranian crew is not known yet in detail, but the dhow was seen again at the beginning of April 2011 near Ceel Gaan (Harardheere district).
MSV AL MUSA : Seized January 09, 2011. The Indian merchant dhow was hijacked along with her 14 Indian crew on or about the 9th of January 2011 while under way off Oman.
The dhow was abducted along with her 14 Indian crew on or about the 9th of January 2011 while under way from Dubai to Salalah around 50nm off the coast of Oman. The vessel is carrying assorted food-stuff and is at present commandeered to Somalia.
CREW OF MV LEOPARD : Seized January 12, 2010. The six men crew (2 Danes 4 Filipinos) was snatched from 1,780-dwt weapons transporter MV Leopard.
The MV LEOPARD (IMO 8902096) is owned by a small company named “Shipcraft”, which is specialized to haul dangerous, military and nuclear cargoes, the Maritime Bulletin says.
The Leopard is known to be carrying what various informed sources have described as a “sensitive” cargo which is believed to include weapons. Although ships operated by Shipcraft, the Leopard’s Danish operator, routinely carry nuclear items, this vessel is not believed to have any on board. Some analysts said it could have been possible that the ship had been disabled by its crew before they hid in the citadel and the Somalis may also have felt that the high-profile nature of the cargo could also have posed a heightened risk of naval or military intervention, but sources from Somalia believe that the real danger concerning the cargo sensed by the Somalis was the reason to abandon the vessel.
It is unknown if the pirates have touched any of the cargo while the welfare of the crew is also not known. Representatives from ShipCraft have steadfastly refused to comment on the issue when contacted by TradeWinds on several occasions on Wednesday and Thursday. The company deactivated its website on Thursday morning as reports began to filter through that the ship was carrying a potentially dangerous cargo and it remains “under construction”. Since unprotected, also MV FAINA – a Ukrainian weapons-carrier with battle tanks for Southern Sudan was intercepted by Somali pirates, but in this case held for 144 days with a major diplomatic row evolving concerning the final destination of the weapons, since they had no permits for Sudan.
“We do not know where the crew is and we are concentrating on locating them and bringing them home to safety,” Shipcraft chief executive Claus Bech said in a statement.
He confirmed a report late Thursday that the pirates had taken the six crew members — two Danes including the captain, and four Filipinos — and abandoned the 1,780-dwt cargo vessel MV Leopard (built 1989).
He did not reveal if the kidnappers had demanded a ransom. Registered shipowner is LODESTAR SHIPHOLDING LTD of Horsholm, Denmark, who has as ISM manager NORDANE SHIPPING A/S.
A search onboard the boat Thursday by Turkish soldiers, who are part of an international NATO-led force in the Gulf of Aden, turned up “neither pirates nor crew members,” Bech said.
The shipping company last had contact with The Leopard crew on Wednesday at 1300 GMT, when the captain sent a distress signal indicating that the cargo ship had been “attacked by pirates who were boarding from two speed boats,” the statement said.
After receiving the alert, NATO sent the Turkish warship Gaziantep to the scene, a spokesman for the alliance’s anti-piracy mission, Jacqui Sheriff, told the Politiken daily’s website.
Shipcraft, which has not provided information on what the cargo ship had been carrying, is known as a specialist in shipping explosives and ammunition, the paper reported, adding that The Leopard was transporting weapons.
All the company’s ships have traveled in the area with armed guards since pirates attempted to capture another of its cargo ships, The Puma, in mid-2009.
However, Politiken.dk reported that The Leopard had let off its armed guards at the Oman port of Salalah before sailing into a zone considered “safe” where it was attacked.
The crew of MV LEOPARD is not covered by an ITF agreement.
According to TradeWinds and in what represents a major departure from Somali pirates’ usual modus operandi, the six seafarers have been snatched and moved to a seized Taiwanese fishing vessel which is operating as a mother-ship.
British sailing couple Paul and Rachel Chandler who had their yacht Lynn Rival hijacked in October 2009 before they were moved to the seized 1,550-teu container vessel Kota Wajar. From there they were taken ashore and held hostage for over a year and only freed last November.
The only other such “off-takes”, apart from the Chandlers, were the kidnapping of Juergen Kantner and his partner from their sailing yacht S/Y ROCKALL on 23. June 2008, the kidnapping of Deborah Calitz and Bruno Pelizzari from S/Y CHOIZIL on 26. October 2010 and the snatching of Sri Lankan fishermen Mr. Lal Fernando and Mr. Sugath Fernando from FV LAKMALI on November 30, 2010. However, recent information reaching our marine monitors in Somalia also say that three women (one Tanzania and two Comorian) had been transferred from the vessel on which they where kidnapped – the MV ALY ZOULFECAR. They were, however, later transferred back..
The most likely explanation, why the pirates left the arms-ship, is that the crew managed to flee into the strong-room and disabled the engines. The time to then get to the crew left little time to get the engines working again before a warship would have arrived. The pirates therefore decided to leave the huge amount of ammunition, rockets and missiles, which the vessel was transporting as deliveries from three European countries to states in Asia, because this loot would not be of immediate benefit to the Somali warlords and most likely would have triggered a serious naval response to block the vessel and its goods from reaching the Somali coast. The mastermind then must have decided to order the gang to just kidnapp the crew and disappear on the waiting fishing vessel.
Allegedly the Somalis holding the 6 men crew have already offered a deal to exchange them.
The Danish shipping company said it was searching for the six crew members, while reports from Hobyo say that 4 Somalis including one dead had been delivered by a naval Helicopter to Hobyo and the Leopard crew is apparently still held there. No further details have emerged yet.
FV NN IRAN (Reg: 4/2742) : Seized January 14, 2010. The Iranian fishing vessel with the Registration Number 4/2742 and her 16 crew was allegedly seized by Somali pirates together with a second Iranian fishing vessel and since then is missing and wanted.
FV NN IRAN (Reg: 4/3672) : Seized January 14, 2010. The Iranian fishing vessel with the Registration Number 4/3672 and her 15 crew was allegedly seized by Somali pirates together with a second Iranian fishing vessel and since then is missing and wanted.
MV EAGLE : Seized January 17, 2011. At 06h41 UTC (09h41 LT) on Monday 17. January, the bulk carrier MV EAGLE (IMO 8126408) was attacked and pirated by a single skiff in position Latitude: 13°17N Longitude: 061°42 E. The attack occurred in the Gulf of Aden, 490 nautical miles South West of Salaam, Oman. The pirates had been firing small arms and a Rocket Propelled Grenade before boarding the vessel. There has been no contact with the ship since the attack. The MV EAGLE which is Cypriot flagged and Greek owned, has a deadweight of 52,163 tonnes and a crew of 25 Filipinos (according to the shipowner and DMS of the Cyprus government – not 24 as stated by EU NAVFOR) and was on passage from Aqabar (Jordan) to Paradip (India) when it was attacked.
The Handymax bulker is owned by the Perogiannakis family, Perosea Shipping Co. S.A. of Greece. The company Perosea currently operates just this one rather old bulker, which was built in 1985.
The ITF agreement, which had been agreed as TCC and was covering the crew with the Pan-Hellenic Seamen’s Federation (PNO), expired on 05. April 2009. The crew of the vessel is therefore not covered by an ITF agreement.
There is at present no information concerning the condition of the crew, while the vessel has reached the Somali coast, where was held off Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast but then transferred to Ceel Dhanaane at the North-Eastern Somali Indian Ocean coast, while Phillipine officials said they have no information if the negotiations have properly commenced.
MV HOANG SON SUN : Seized January 20, 2010. The vessel MV HOANG SON HUN (IMO 8323862) was seized by pirates, who came onboard shooting at 12h42 UTC in position Latitude: 15°11N Longitude: 059°38, which is approximately 520 nautical miles South East of the port of Muscat, Oman. The 22,835-tonne Bulk carrier is Mongolian flagged and Vietnamese owned, has a crew of 24 Vietnamese nationals and is carrying 21,000 tons of iron ore.
MV HOANG SON SUN was not registered with MSC(HOA) and had not reported to UKMTO.
Owner and manager of the Vietnamese vessel is HOANG SON CO LTD from Thanh Hoa City, Vietnam, who insured it with West of England Shipowners. Unfortunately for the seafarers it has no ITF agreement.
Nguyen Bien Cuong, head of the Hoang Son Co’s maritime security department, said the last time his firm had heard from the Vietnamese crew of the cargo ship was Tuesday. However, according to the ship-owner (Hoang Son Company in Thanh Hoa province), the captured ship captain Dinh Tat Thang somehow managed to clandestinely send an email saying that all sailors are in safe condition and the merchant ship has been moved to a Somalia port.
Apart from that, Hoang Son Company has not received any other information, Vietnamese media reported.
Bui Viet Tung, son of chief mechanic Bui Thai Hung, one of hostages, is angry that the company has not made any contact with the pirates.
“If Hoang Son Company is not committed to the case, our family will go to Hai Phong northern city to seek more information on my father’s situation”.
On the same day, Hoang Son – deputy director of Hoang Son – told Tuoi Tre the company is working with a UK-based firm specialized in negotiating all things related to hostage and pirates to rescue the victims.
“The ransom is estimated to hit US$5 million,” Hoang Son added and stated that the vessel itself is insured against hijackers by the Vietnam Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development, but that the staff and goods on the ship have no insurance. “If pirates ask for a huge ransom, there’s no way the company can afford it,” Son said and added: “We need the support of the state and our insurer.”
Based on this analysts believe that the case will take at least three month, because the British companies are known to take their time, because they are paid for it.
Crew and vessel were first held off Hobyo but the vessel is at the moment moored off Ceel Dhanaane at the North-Eastern Somali Indian Ocean coast. Negotiations seem to be difficult.
MV KHALED MUHIEDINNE K : Seized January 20, 2011. Pirates attacked the the Togo-flagged, Syrian-owned bulk carrier MV KHALED MUHIEDINNE K (IMO 8105650) at 17h08 UTC (20h08 LT) on 20 January 2011, in position Latitude: 20°39N Longitude: 063°38E, which is in the North Arabian Sea approximately 330 nautical miles South East of the Omani coastal port of Salalah. The merchant vessel was the second ship hijacked in one day.
“Authorities were made aware of the attack when the master (captain) reported being fired upon with small arms and seeing pirates on board,” an EU NAVFOR statement said.
The 160m long, 24,022 deadweight tonne vessel, which had registered its route with the appropriate authorities like MSC(HOA) and was reporting to UKMTO while she was on her way from Singapore to Hudaydah, Yemen.
DANA MARINE LTD serves as registered owner for DAMAK MARITIME CO of Tartous, Syria.
The bulker has a crew of 22 Syrians and three Egyptians, who unfortunately are not covered by an ITF agreement, since the vessel has no ITF approved CBA.
The vessel reached the Somali coast and was held off Garacad at the North-Eastern Somali Indian Ocean cost until it recently was moved further south and is held now off Ceel Caduur north of Hobyo. The owners are apparently in contact, but it is not knowwn yet if there is any progress.
MV BELUGA NOMINATION : Seized January 22, 2011. The German-owned heavy-lift and multi-purpose vessel MV BELUGA NOMINATION (IMO 9356402) was attacked at 12h36 UTC (15h36 LT) in the afternoon of 22. January 2011 en route to Port Victoria in the Seychelles. The vessel was observed on 22. January first at position 0435N 04804E and was then attacked in position 01 49N 056 35E by a skiff, with an unknown number of suspected pirates on board. The emergency signal was received at 14h38 (CET). Small arms were used against the vessel during the attack, which took place around 480 nm from the Somali coast and 390 nm straight north of the archipelago of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. The vessel was en route from from Palma de Mallorca and then on 07. January the port of Valetta on Malta in Europe via the Seychelles and India to the South Korean port of Masan, with what had been termed “steel-cargo”.
The incident was for four days not reported by EU NAVFOR, NATO, or the IMB to the public. Information is regularly withheld when a military operation is planned or in progress.
However, fact seems to be that for over two days (exactly 49h) the crew was locked in the strongroom and sent SOS signals until the pirates managed to get to them.
Information released by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 24. January were then confirmed on 25. by the shipowner and the German parliamentary secretary Hans-Joachim Otto (FDP) and they confirmed that the vessel was actually sea-jacked.
Late night on 25. January finally also EU NAVFOR stated that operation ATALANTA believed – “after 4 days of uncertainty regarding the exact status of the crew” – that the vessel was pirated. The European naval force confirmed that the MV BELUGA NOMINATION had been properly registered with MSC(HOA) and had reported to UKMTO, but remarked that the nearest EU NAVFOR warship at the time of the attack was over 1000 Nm away. Likewise NATO had remained mum until then. Critics said a naval vessel could have reached the Beluga Nomination in less than 33 hours.
“We are somewhat irritated,” Beluga’s chief executive Niels Stolberg was quoted by Reuters as saying on 26. January. “Why, within two and a half days during which the crew had hidden from the pirates in the citadel, could no external help be offered?”
Reportedly the crew was even able to steer the vessel from the strongroom towards Port Victoria and observers wonder why the heavily EU- and US-financed coastguard of the Seychelles didn’t respond earlier.
Sources of the Maritme Bulletin, however, reported later that the vessel actually had been sailing in a convoy, protected by a Russian frigate. Then the Beluga N apparently left the convoy and sailed independently. Captains on other vessels in this convoy were wondering, considering the heavy-lift ship with a free-board of only 2m a sitting duck, while pirates had been circling the convoy already.
After the news broke, the press-officer of Beluga Shipping, Verena Beckhusen, at first informed that the company didn’t want to make a statement at that moment and in a later statement the company only confirmed that their vessel and crew had been abducted. Also efforts by the Consulate General of Ukraine in Hamburg to find information on the exact number of their nationals on board were initially not successful. The Embassy of the Ukraine in Kenya then received orders to establish contacts with the operator and to follow the development of the situation, since it has experience in freeing ships in similar situations like the weapons-ship MV FAINA.
It is not clear yet if the German 9,775 dwt general cargo vessel is transporting sensitive goods. Some Beluga vessels like the MV BELUGA ENDURANCE are said to have been earlier involved in deliveries of military hardware, e.g. to the port of Mombasa in Kenya and several other BELUGA vessels had already earlier bad experiences with piracy. MV BBC TRINIDAD was sea-jacked in 2008, triggering the German participation in EU NAVFOR’s operation Atalanta. MVs BELUGA FORTUNE as well as BBC ORINOCO were boarded in other incidences by pirates, who after the attack left those vessels, while navies were zooming in and crews were in their strong-rooms.
Marine observers, however, wonder what the pirates might do with the above-deck cargo, since the vessel carries there several sailing and six motor yachts. The Maritimo M48 is one of nine leisure craft on board, three large Aicon flybridges and an Itama besides a number of sailing yachts were transported.The under-deck cargo has still not been revealed.
Registered owner of the Antigua and Barbuda flagged MV B. NOMINATION is DUTCH NEELE SHIPPING GMBH, but sailing under ISM manager BELUGA FLEET MANAGEMENT GMBH the ship manager is BELUGA SHIPPING GMBH of Bremen, Germany. The vessel has P&I insurance from Assuranceforeningen Skuld – Norway.
Only two days after the SOS signal was received a ferret aircraft of a private contractor working for the coast guard of the insular state of the Seychelles flew across the scenery to confirm that the pirates were still on board. Spotted on deck were at least four buccaneers.
“A patrol boat of the Seychelles Coast Guard followed on Tuesday 25. January with a gap of a few miles to the meanwhile commandeered vessel. ‘Due to bad weather’ [during a best weather period !?!] the chase had to be abandoned” – so the official statement – a clear naval lie. In reality the Seychelles coastguard attacked the hostage vessel with massive fire-power and created total havoc on 26. January 2011.
Unfortunately the Somalis had meanwhile found means to break the strong-room open, where the crew was hiding. In several previous cases the explosives and fuel the pirates used as “can-opener” for the “citadels” injured crew members as well as in other cases the pirates themselves. But in this case the citadel had been opened by the pirates with the help of a blow torch, a gas-operated cutting torch. Reportedly no C4 explosives, hand-grenades or rocket propelled grenades were use to break the doors, which is good because it means the crew wasn’t harmed initially.
During the turmoil creating attack by the Seychelles coast guards, two crew-members managed to escape from the merchant vessel, whereby one, the ship’s Ukrainian second officer Taranukhin, hid himself in the life-boat, which was then launched and automatically dropped in free-fall into the sea. Another crew member, Ferdinand Aquino, the 46 year old Filipino cook, jumped after him over board and managed to climb into the boat. The two survivors were later hoisted on board of the Danish warship HDMS ESBERN SNARE, which suddenly also was at the scene, though EU NAVFOR had stated earlier that no navy vessel could have possibly reached the MV BELUGA NOMINATION in distress.
The German company was then demanding to know why it was only a telephone call from the Danish warship that alerted them that two of their crew were safe, why they had to rely on ‘leaked’ information from a press release and were not contacted by the authorities directly.
For the shipowners Mr. Niels Stolberg stated very clearly that the military attack was neither requested nor permitted by his company. He is quoted as saying that the owners even never received any feedback after they had immediately reported the distress signal sent from their vessel. That could make the military intervention actually illegal, if the incident happened outside the Seychelles waters on the high seas. International maritime law does not permit the Seychelles or Danmark, the EU or NATO to militarily attack an Antigua and Barbuda flagged merchant vessel in international waters – and even the skimpy UN security council resolutions touching on piracy off Somalia don’t change this. However, it is not clear yet, if the attack by the Seychelles didn’t happen inside the Seychelles EEZ, because the vessels, sailed by the crew from the strongroom towards Mahe during the initial phase, might have crossed the equator already until the position where the clash happened with the coastguard. But since neither the request was made nor the permission given by the shipowner for a naval attack, the managing director of Beluga Shipping is understandibly angry and he stated in a German newspaper in addition that the firefight had been opened by the naval vessels, mainly the Seychelles coastguard. This indicates that also the Danish warship had been already close at that time and actually engaged in the fight. The actual position of the attack by the navy ships has so far not been disclosed by the Seychelles nor the naval command centres, but it was much close to the Seychelles than the initial position where the pirates came on board.
Two further sailors had apparently jumped overboard during the skirmish, but according to the shipowner, are missing. Seaman Elviro Salazar, 26, a wiper, was later reported missing and presumably drowned.The most serious part of the failed rescue attempt by the Seychelles coastguard and the Danish navy is a report stating that at first one of the pirates had been shot and killed and then according to the shipowner the boatman, a Filipino, was killed in revenge. This was confirmed by diplomatic sources from the Philippines. The unfortunate man was allegedly killed in retribution for the coastguard attack which killed one of the Somalis.
Brenda Vallega, the sister of the killed Pinoy sailor blogged: “That was a careless act by the seychelles vessel. did they ever think that there are human lives who were at stake there? too late response and yet made a careless move? i am the sister of one of the Filipino crew and filipino survivor said that my brother was the one killed. but we are still hoping that it wasn’t true and he is still safe and alive. as family members don”t we have the right to know? the agency in the Philippines doesn’t even entertain questions by the relatives. i am here in canada and i need to know what is happening to my brother ”
Only on 08. February Philippines’ Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz confirmed in a statement that the pirates shot and killed Farolito Vallega, 48, on January 26 on board the MV Beluga Navigation. She complained that manning agency Marlow Navigation Philippines, Inc. had irresponsibly delayed information. She said the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has been directed to ensure that all the necessary assistance packages in terms of death benefits, assistance and monetary benefits to all the respective families of the Filipino seamen are provided.
So far the shipowner has not yet responded to requests to release the official, actual crew-list to the Seafarers Assistance Programme. However, the crewlist from December – meanwhile obtained from other sources – shows that under a Polish master the 12 men crew originally comprised 2 Ukrainian and 2 Russian officers and seven Filipino sailors. Only five days after the abduction of the vessel a Kaliningrad-based crew recruitment agency finally confirmed that the two Russians among the crew are actually Russian citizens. One sailor is from Kaliningrad and the second is from St.Petersburg. Fortunately the crew of the 132m long cargo ship is covered by an ITF Agreement through Marlow Navigation Co Ltd. and Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft.
During the attack, however, the engines stalled due to what has been now reveled was massive gunfire from the naval vessels targeting the engine room, which caused a large fire there. But unhindered by the navies, the previously pirated gas tanker MV YORK – with her German captain as hostage – appeared and secured the situation for the pirates.
A short time later, both sea-jacked vessels were observed disappearing towards Somalia.
Interestingly enough, outspoken Niels Stolberg of Beluga Shipping had opinioned in an interview on 22. November last year – long before this actual case concerned now his company again – that the violence would escalate and warned that gas-tankers like the MT YORK could be used by pirates in co-horts with radical Muslim fundamentalists and terrorists as “Mega-bombs”. Now, the very MT YORK was just used as a kind of maritime break-down service sent by PIRACY INC. when his pirated ship, the MV BELUGA NOMINATION, was briefly disabled by a blotched naval attack, which as result most likely killed five of the crew and one or two pirates. Stolberg is not happy about the navies and surely not about the pirates, but his demand to have German troops as ship-riders on his ships flying for reasons of tax-evasion a flag of convenience is not met with support by the German government.
The last officially reported position of the hijacked vessel was then on 25th of January at 1700 UTC (20h00 LT) in position 01°45S 051°00E – not far from entering the Somali waters at the start of its continental shelf zone of 350nm, while first information from the ground in Somalia revealed that the vessel was commandeered towards the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast. Already that day the two vessels were expected off Ceel Gaan in the vincinity of Harardheere and then possibly Hobyo.
The vessel and crew are reportedly now held south of the coastal dwelling of Ceel Gaan. The owner stated that so far no ransom demand had been made and there was no clear information on the condition of the remaining seven crew on the vessel. The German Magazine Der Spiegel with contacts to the German Navy command centre, however, feared that two crew-members were killed by massive attack-fire from the Seychelles coastguard, which now claimed it had earlier requested permission to board from the owner but not even received a response, and five more sailors are missing. Der Spiegel even feared that only the Captain and the pirates were left on the ship.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is taking immediate action on this matter,” Poland’s FM spokesperson Marcin Bosacki said in a statement.
But reports from the ground, said that seven crew members are held alive on the vessel of whom one is apparently injured. The bodies of two deceased persons are allegedly also kept on the ship. This was finally confirmed by the shipowner on 06. January, who only stated that the Russian Chief Engineer had presumably drowned. The chief engineer of the vessel hailed from St. Petersburg in Russia.
It is extremely difficult for our monitors to establish the truth in this case because many local elders and other contacts they speak to feel ashamed of what happened and might try to not reveal the full, horrible truth.
The identities of the survivors on the hostage vessel could now be established for the Polish captain, the Ukrainian Chief officer, the Russian second engineer and four Filipino seamen, who remain captives of the pirates. If these accounts are correct one sailor would be missing, who was first said to have jumped over board in the beginning of the tragedy, but now was reportedly also shot. Only on 09. February it was finally officially confirmed that now one Polish national, one Ukrainian, one Russian and four Filipinos from the Beluga crew are held hostage, some on the vessel and some on land for fear of a commando attack.
Despite attempts, humanitarian access to treat the allegedly injured sailor has not been possible, because the gang holding the vessel is extremely nervous and fears another attack.
It is also believed that if the ship-owner and the cargo-owners do not respond quickly and decisively then at least some of the very powerful motorboats carried as cargo on the German vessel will be used by the pirate-gangs to further establish their criminal ruling on the waters, which is also holding the coastal communities hostage, wherever they moore the pirated ships.
Meanwhile Beluga Chartering, a core part of the Beluga Group, has formally filed for insolvency protection and after German Police raided the offices of the Beluga shipping group, looking for evidence of possible fraud by the group’s former chief executive, Niels Stolberg.
A US shareholder, private-equity fund Oaktree, which kicked off the inquiry with a complaint to German prosecutors, is now managing the company. Oaktree accused Stolberg of harming shareholders by hiding millions of Euro from them.
An earlier Oaktree statement said it had been informed that Beluga would need additional funding in February 2011, which had been given by Oaktree “after a brief period of diligence”. But when it wanted to know more details about where the new money would be needed, “significant financial irregularities” came to light.
After the allegations surfaced, many of the owners reclaimed their ships from Beluga and so far eight group companies have filed for protection from creditors, saying they are insolvent. This has raised concerns about how the group can ever ransom the seven surviving crew of the Beluga Nomination.
‘We are in regular contact with the ship,’ a Beluga spokesman said. Ransom negotiations had not yet settled the sum. It will be up to the insolvency administrator to decide whether to pay off the pirates, he said.
However everyone has to consider and understand the fact, that the risks are insured, and the fact that Beluga Group is trying to negotiate the ransom is most probably dictated by their Insurance company.
This insurance company – Danish based SKULD – at the end, will have to cover the ransom expenses and pay them back to Beluga Group. But the longer the negotions last, the more money this insurance company will save, despite having the risk covered. In the meantime the crew, the cargo as well as the shippers and receivers are all suffering from delays and constant credibility and contractual loss.
The vessel was moored close to the coast off Ceel Gaan at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast of Harardheere district, but is at present said to be held further off the coast – hardly to be noticed from the beach.
MT SAVINA CAYLYN: Seized February 08, 2010. At 04h27 UTC (07h27 local time) Somali pirates sea-jacked the huge Italian crude oil tanker MT SAVINA CAYLYN (IMO 9489285) with 22 crew members in the Indian Ocean en route from the Bashayer oil terminal in Sudan to the port of Pasir Gudang in Malaysia. The attack took place in position Latitude: 12°10N Longitude: 066°00E on the Indian Ocean, which is 673 nm straight east from Socotra Island at the tip of the Horn of Africa and around 360 nm west of the Indian Lakshadweep Islands. The ship is carrying a load of crude oil for ARCADIA, a commodities trading company.
Though Italian newspapers first published the tanker had escaped, European Union Naval Force Somalia spokesman Paddy O’Kennedy confirmed later the Italian flagged and owned MT SAVINA CAYLYN was hijacked. “The vessel was boarded after a sustained attack by one skiff with five suspected pirates firing small arms and four rocket propelled grenades,” O’Kennedy said and added: “There is presently no communication with the vessel and no information regarding the condition of the crew of 22 – 5 Italians and 17 Indians.”
The 104,255 dwt MT SAVINA CAYLYN Caylyn had registered with the Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) and was reporting to the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO).
The Aframax of Chinese make was built in 2008 at the Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding shipyard and is insured through Standard P&I Club per Charles Taylor & Co., but so far no information concerning an ITF agreement for the crew was found.
Registered owner is DOLPHIN TANKER SRL for managers FRATELLI D’AMATO SPA , Naples NA, Italy. Fratelli D’Amato Spa is fully owned by Luigi D’Amato, who is also the sole administrator.
Dolphin Tanker s.r.l. is a 50% joint venture between Scerni Group and Fratelli D’Amato S.p.a., and a joint venture between Luigi D’Amato, president of Fratelli D’Amato International Group, and Paolo Scerni, president of Scerni Group – which presently owns 6 tankers. The joint venture might come to an end by mutual consent and banks which granted credit lines for their ships in the past years – i.e., Milan-based Centrobanca, Genoa-based Banca Carige, and Deutsche Bank AG – have been informed of the ongoing restructuring, necessary in order to preserve the earnings from a pool of ships which made last year a 4 million Euros profit.
So far Il Cavaliere del Lavoro (Knight of Labor) Luigi D’Amato serves as the President.
Italian Cmdr. Cosimo Nicastro of the Italian coast guard said the coast guard was alerted by a satellite alarm system about the attack. All Italian ships that register with the coast guard’s operations center in Rome have such an alarm system. “There was an exchange of fire between the pirates and crew,” Nicastro said and it was observed that the 266 metre long ship slowed down almost to a standstill before it then sped up again and resumed its course, leading the coast guard to think the pirates had climbed on board and are now in command.
Where the pirates instructed to wait for this vessel, like it was the case in other sea-jackings – for instance the weapons-transporting Ro-Ro FAINA or now admittedly the MV SAMHO JEWELRY case?
Initial reports then said no-one was hurt in the attack and Commander Pio Schiano, from the Fratelli D’Amato shipping company in Naples, told a local television channel that he had been in communication with the tanker, stating that the crew were well but no ransom demands had been made.
Italy’s foreign ministry released a statement following the attack to announce that a task force had been set up to monitor the situation along with the ministry of defence.
The vessel was then commandeered towards Somalia, while the Italian Navy frigate ZEFFORO, which was some 500 miles away, was heading to the area too.
The 266-m long and 46-m wide vessel was expected in Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean Coast, when satellite imagery showed it early morning on 10. February still about 330 km off the Somalia coast.
Vessel and crew have meanwhile arrived on 12. February off Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast and negotiations are reportedly under way. However the vessel and crew have meanwhile been transferred further south to the Harardheere district coast, where the vessel is held off Ceel Gaan.
VLCC IRENE SL : Seized February 9,2011. The Greek flagged and owned VLCC IRENE SL (IMO 9285823) with a dead weight of 319,247 tonnes was attacked and pirated at 09h26 UTC (12h26 local time) on 9 February in position Latitude: 21°27N and Longitude: 063°18E – just 225nm out from Ras al Hadd (Oman) and 360nm off Okha (India) in the Northern Arabian Sea. The area is considered a high surveillance and high security zone at the entrance to the Gulf of Oman, which leads to the Persian Gulf.
At first the Piraeus-based shipping company First Navigation Special Maritime Enterprises just confirmed its Very Large Crude Carrier had been attacked by pirates, but had no further comment.
“This morning the vessel was attacked by armed men,” the tanker’s Greece-based manager Enesel said then immediately thereafter in a statement. “For the moment there is no communication with the vessel.”
Commander Susie Thomson, spokeswoman for the multinational Combined Maritime Forces apparently fighting piracy in the area, said the tanker was hijacked 220 nautical miles off Oman and was likely attacked by Somali pirates. “We can only speculate as to where the ship is being taken,” she told Reuters and stated to AFP more importantly: “We have no reports of casualties.”
The MV IRENE SL was not registered with MSC(HOA), but was reporting to UKMTO, EU NAVFOR said later, confirming the capture of the supertanker. The attack had caught the European navies somehow flatfooted, who only could state that the attack happened “around 10h00 UTC” and “approximately 350 nautical miles South East of Muscat.”
Handy Shipping reported that there was also some confusion as to the exact details of the ship’s route. According to media reports from the owner the Greek owned vessel was en route from the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Mexico with a cargo of crude oil with an approximate value of $200 million, while EU NAVFOR’s Operation Atalanta, the European Union security force charged with protection of freight and passenger vessels in the region, stated she was heading for Fujairah from the Suez Canal, seemingly the opposite direction.
Meanwhile it seems to have been clarified that the tanker is full of oil and was heading for the U.S.A.
With FIRST NAVIGATION ENE named as registered owner, the VLCC IRENE SL is owner-managed by ENESEL SA and operated by Enesel Shipping – all of Athens, Greece. Enesel S.A. with a company history of over 150 years currently manages a modern and diverse fleet of five tankers – three VLCC and two aframax – and three supramax bulk carriers and also has three suezmax tankers on order.
The SVXS Crude Oil supertanker is insured by the UK P&I Club but unfortunately there seems to be no ITF agreement for the crew, which has 25 seafarers – with seventeen Filipinos, seven Greeks and one Georgian national on board.
The 333-metre very large crude carrier, was carrying about 2 million barrels of crude oil, estimated by Joe Angelo, managing director of INTERTANKO, who spoke to Reuters, to be nearly 20 percent of the daily U.S. crude imports. The cargo alone has a value of around $200 million worth of Kuwaiti crude oil, which is said to be 270,000 metric tons or over 1.9 million barrels.
While the insurance industry is making hundreds of millions and seaborne gangs from Somalia are making tens of millions of dollars in ransoms, and despite costing taxpayers billions of dollars for the navies, the international armada of warships sent to the region has simply failed to contain piracy in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. Politicians and the industries seem still not to understand that Somali piracy will only end, once serious and tangible development along the coastal communities sets in – areas which have been neglected by the so called international community for decades, while regional proxy-wars are staged and played.
When INTERTANKO, the association whose members own the majority of the world’s tanker fleet, said today the hijacking of the VLCC IRENE SL marked “a significant shift in the impact of the piracy crisis in the Indian Ocean”, this must be seen as a flawed statement since other giant oil tankers like the VLCC SIRIUS STAR, VLCC Maran Centaurus and the VLCC SAMHO DREAM had been captured earlier and released against likewise gigantic sums of ransom.
And while INTERTANKO spokesperson Joe Angelo told Reuters today: “The piracy situation is now spinning out of control into the entire Indian Ocean,” it must be noticed that he apparently woke up late, since ECOTERRA Intl. and the East African Seafarers Assistance programme as well as ECOP-Marine had predicted this and persistently warned since over three years. ECOTERRA Intl. had foreseen such already in 1994 in a briefing to Admiral Howe, noting already back then the possible disastrous developments if no help would come forward to develop the Somali coastal regions.
But while everybody was busy to newly combine naval forces, to invent new deterrents against pirates or to write reports with false statistics, the people in Somalia continued to die, because the root causes of their problems, which also are the main root causes of piracy, were not addressed.
To repeat: The root-causes are the abhorrent poverty, hunger and death in a Somalia, which is kept in turmoil by an UN-masked, ill-conceived international scheme while further reasons are to be found in the greed of those who profit from the piracy menace, many of them in plush offices far off from Somalia.
What is very astonishing in this case is the fact that already on 02.02.2011 at 08h30 UTC in Posn: 20:16N – 063:36E, i.e. 225nm ESE of Ras al Hadd, Oman, about eight pirates in two skiffs and armed with RPG and automatic weapons chased and fired already upon a tanker underway. That is nearly the exact location where the Greek supertanker was taken just five days later. In the first case on that spot the tanker raised alarm, increased speed and contacted a warship for assistance. The pirates in the two skiffs kept firing with automatic weapons. When the warship arrived at the location the skiffs stopped chasing the tanker and moved away. A helicopter from a warship arrived at the location and circled the tanker. The helicopter contacted the pirates by VHF radio and ordered them to surrender their weapons. The pirates replied that they would kill the Iraqi and Pakistani hostages held on board the mother ship, if the warships attacked the skiffs. While it must be respected that for humanitarian reasons and to safe the life of the hostages the navies didn’t go further, it can not be understood that they didn’t keep the pirate’s launch on a leach and close observation. How five days later at the almost same location a supertanker can be captured, can only be explained with naval neglect, carelessness and uncoordinated operations.
There is presently no communication since the initial radio call from the VLCC IRENE SL reporting the attack to another vessel in the area and no information regarding the condition of the crew has transpired, while the huge tanker is commandeered towards Somalia.
“The only thing that has changed is its position, and at 0400 Zulu (UTC/GMT) … it was 150 nautical miles (277 kilometres) southeast of the Omani coast, heading toward the Somali coast,” a spokeswoman for the Bahrain-based international naval force told AFP by telephone.
“It’s potentially a floating disaster in the making,” a spokesperson from ECOTERRA Intl. said and added: “If anything would happen with the vessel it would be the biggest oil disaster mankind has seen in the Indian Ocean – an area, where coastal states have no means to combat any such gigantic oil spill.” “It’s a good catch and there must be about 30 pirates on board,” Abdi Yare told AFP. Several small boats have left Hobyo to escort the supertanker in towards shore, other pirates in Hobyo said.
But information from the ground says that the vessel is now expected in Ceel Dhanane and not Hobyo.
Other reports stated the oil tanker was spotted in position 16 19 N and 058 49 E on Feb 10 2011 and that the pirates had immediately started to use the supertanker as a pirate ship to attack other vessels.
At present the VLCC IRENE SL is again away from the Somali coast, acting as extremely dangerous pirate launch.
The gigantic oil tanker was observed at 08h17 UTC on 13. March 2011 in position Latitude: 11 55N Longitude: 058 39E travelling 071 degrees at 12 kts.
On 18 March the tanker was observed at 17h36 UTC in position 13 01N and 055 18E being used as piracy launch.
On or around 19. March 2011 the pirates on VLCC IRENE SL contacted a navy ship and communicated that they had a severely wounded pirate on board. The navy ship offered help, but the pirate died on the operation table. The body of the pirate was then exchanged for 10 Indonesian sailors from FV JIH CHUN TSAI 68 and 3 Yemeni seamen from seajacked Yemeni dhow Al WA’ ALA.
On 20. March at 12h56 UTC she was in position 06 54N and 049 26E.
On 21. March at 08h04 UTC she was observed in postion 06 54N and 049 25E going towards Hobyo. The owners reportedly established contact with the ship, which together with the crew is now held off Garacad at the North-Eastern Indian Ocean coast of Somalia.
Reportedly too many sidelines make the negotiations for a release difficult.
MV SININ (Ex: Laurinda): Seized February 12, 2010. At 15h31 UTC (19h30 local time) on 12. February 2011, the Malta-flagged, Iran-owned Handymax MV SININ (IMO 9274941) was attacked by presumed Somali pirates in position 19 26N and 063 29E, which is around 350 nautical miles East of Masirah Island (Oman) in the Arabian Sea. The bulk carrier then was reported hijacked at 15h48 UTC on 12 February in position 201409N and 0641917E, approximately 286NM east of Masirah Island, Oman. The differences in the naval reporting about the location has so far not been clarified. The bulker was en route from Fujarah (UAE) to Singapore and has a crew of 23, of which13 are Iranian and 10 Indian nationals.
EU NAVFOR reported a day later and stated that they too believed the 52,466 dwt vessel was pirated. In a statement the Eurapean naval forces said: “The vessel sent out a distress signal, saying she was under attack, late afternoon on Saturday to which an aircraft from the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) immediately responded. The aircraft photographed 2 suspected pirate skiffs on board the vessel. There has been no communication with the ship since the distress signal was sent and the MV SININ has now changed course towards the Somali coast. There is no information on the condition of the crew.”
Reportedly the 190m-long vessel with four toering cranes was not registered with MSC(HOA) and was not reporting to UKMTO.
State-owner company IRISL has named ISIM SININ LTD as registered owner and owner/managers are IRANOHIND SHIPPING CO LTD all of Tehran, Iran.
Subsidiary of Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL – see separate entity record); listed in Annex III of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929 of June 9, 2010, requiring states to freeze its assets within their territories and to prevent assets from being made available to it (with some exceptions); on September 10, 2008, added to the Specially Designated National (SDN) list maintained by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), freezing its assets under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibiting transactions with U.S. parties, pursuant to Executive Order 13382, which targets proliferators of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery systems; according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, IRISL and affiliates provide logistical services to Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL – see separate entity record); owns six oceangoing vessels transporting crude oil and bulk and general cargo; subsidiaries include ISI Maritime Limited and Jaladhi Shipping Services (India) Private Limited; other subsidiaries reportedly include BIIS Maritime, Imir Ltd., and Isim Atr Ltd.; established as a joint venture between IRISL (51 percent) and Shipping Corporation of India-SCI (49 percent); reportedly established in 1975; commercial director is Ardasheer Yousefi.
In 2002 the Shipping Corporation of India decided to continue to be a partner with the Iranian government in the Irano Hind Shipping Co after disinvestment. According to senior officials, New Delhi has conveyed to Teheran that it stands committed to the joint venture even after its privatisation which is expected to take place by next month. SCI has a 49 per cent equity holding in the joint venture company which has a majority holding by the state-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines. Sources said the reassurance to the Iranian government has been informally conveyed since the joint venture was conceived as a government-to-government partnership way back in 1974. The government has decided to offload 51 per cent equity in SCI in favour of a strategic partner while at the same time passing off 3.12 per cent shares to the employees. The government currently holds 80.12 per cent stake in the public sector shipping giant.
Iran o Hind Shipping Company is also Known As: Keshtirani Iran Ve Hend Sahami Khass; Irano Hind Shipping Company; Iranohind Shipping Company (PJS); IHSC; Iran and India Shipping Company; Iran Hind Shipping Company; Irano Hind; Irano Hind Shiping Co. (P.J.S); Irano-hind Shipping Company; Irano-hind; Irano-hind Shipping Co; Iran and India Shipping Co.; Iranohind Shipping Co.; Keshtirani Iran Ve Hend Sahami Khass; Iran O Hand Shipping Co.; IranoHind Shipping Co. Ltd.
However, the ambitious and oldest joint venture of the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) is now caught in a diplomatic whirlpool over Iran, forcing the company to consider severing its ties with Tehran’s national maritime carrier. As the issue is ridden with political sensitivity, the SCI has sought the ministry of external affairs’ opinion as international sanctions can make the profit-making unit incur huge losses.
The 2006-built Handymax bulker was then commandeered to the Somali coast, while communication was apparently lost.
Indian foreign minister Krishna, allaying concerns raised by Bihar CM Nitish Kumar about the safety of the people from the state, stated that seaman Kumar Prashant from Bihar and 23 others on the ship belonging to Irano-Hind Shipping Company were safe. “As per information conveyed by our mission in Tehran, the owners of the ship last spoke to the pirate negotiator on March 2, 2011 and he confirmed that all the crew were safe,” Krishna said in his letter dated March 18. Negotiations with the pirates were being handled by a committee headed by the managing director of the Iran-based shipping company. Nitish Kumar in his letter to Krishna on February 22 had requested the Centre to take all steps for the early release of Prashant and other hostages.
Vessel and crew are held now off Ceel Caduur north of Hobyo and negotiations have commenced..
FV AL-FARDOUS (aka FV ALFARDOUS) : Seized February, 12. 2011. The vessel was captured near the disputed islands of Socotra, which are located on the continental shelf of Somalia at the very tip of the Horn of Africa, but were handed to Yemen located across the Gulf of Aden. The number of crew is not known yet.
Fishing rights in this fish-rich zone off the coast of Somalia have been leading to disputes since many decades.
European Union’s naval mission Atalanta of EU NAVFOR confirmed the capture now in a welcomed move to not only focus their attention on abducted large merchant ships. Further reports awaited.
SY ING : Seized February 24, 2011. “A Danish yacht was captured by pirates, the Danish foreign ministry confirmed and stated this publicly only on 28. February 2010. The confirmation actually came 4 days after the actual attack and seajacking on 24. February 2011 of the Denmark-flagged sailing boat SY ING, which is why we could release the alert only that day, since it always has also to be ensured that the next of kin are informed first.
According to our information the attack happened in position 14N and 58E, which is around 210 nm from Socotra Island (Yemen), 300 nm from Salalah (Oman) and around 480 nm off the nearest Somali coast at the very tip of the Horn of Africa. (1nm = 1.852 kilometres) The yacht sent a distress signal just before the boat was boarded and two days after the murder 4 Americans on the SY QUEST. The signal was received, but the authorities decided to not let the attack be widely known, a fact, which was later criticized by many cruising sailors, who demand the full information from the naval control centres and other authorities in order to avoid specific danger spots. Denmark’s Intelligence agency PET had asked all relatives of the hostages to keep the incident secret, while it is now believed that the information was only confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign affairs at a moment when the hostages were already taken on land.
The 43-foot yacht S/Y ING and her crew of 7 was captured in the Southern Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean en route from the Makunudhoo atoll in the Maldives, from where they had left on 11. February 2011, via Uligan on the 19. February en route to the Red Sea.
S/Y ING and the crew had reported their cruise earlier to UKMTO, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations based in the UAE, which listed itself as primary report and emergency contact. UKMTO had received every day a report with heading and status of the yacht, which at one point even was overflown by a surveillance aircraft.
The sailing yacht S/Y ING with her little over 13m length and 7 tonnes, is a small sloop which features one mast and two sails, a normal mainsail and a jib. The model of this sloop is a Dynamic 43, designed in Norway, and has an not too powerful diesel inboard motor. But it is a fast and well sailing boat, perfect for 2 or 3 couples or a family of up to seven members.
Four adults and three children aged 12, 15 and 17 were a happy crew together, but are now kept hostage. The parents, Skipper Jan Quist Johansen, his wife, Birgit Marie Johansen, their sons, Rune (17) and Hjalte (15), and daughter Naja (13), as well as their two crew employees are all of Danish nationality. The family hails from Kalundborg, west of Copenhagen, Denmark. Also the families of the deckhands have been informed.
A duty officer at the Danish marine command headquarters, SOK, told AFP: “SOK received an SOS from the sailboat and began searching for the whereabouts of the ship and determine what has happened to the crew.”
Why the Danish government and the navies failed for four days to alert other cruising sailors in the area about the incident is not known. The naval forces deployed to the area have so far not agreed to escort cruising sailors in convoys through the dangerous Gulf of Aden passage or while having to pass the Arabian Sea, where several incidences happened during the last month, including the pirating of SY QUEST with four American hostages, who were all killed in botched negotiations and despite a failed rescue attempt..
The yacht is at present commandeered towards Somalia, where according to our information still also two other Danes from weapons-ship MV LEOPARD are held hostage by a Somali pirate gang.
Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen said: “It is almost unbearable to think that there are children involved and I can only sharply denounce the pirates’ actions” and added: “Government officials will do everything in our power to help the Danes.”
While the Danish government said the Danish warship ‘Esbern Snare’ was dispatched for the area, the navies this time did not make the same mistakes as in the cases of SY TANIT and SY QUEST.
Observers from Puntland first reported that the sailing boat was expected at the North-Eastern Puntland coast near Ceel Dhanaane on the Indian Ocean, which would have been around 660 nm (1,220km) from the point where it was attacked – at the same location where SY QUEST was supposed to make landfall before she was pushed by four U.S. naval vessels further into the Gulf of Aden, where the four American sailors and four Somali hostage takers found their tragic end.
But the sailing yacht, which was driven apparently by only three hostage takers on board full throttle towards the Somali coast, ran out of fuel.
MV EMS RIVER a likewise sea-jacked merchant vessel, just before she was released since the ransom already had been delivered, had already been dispatched by the pirates’ gang leader to provide cover services against a possible naval attack and then did provide the necessary fuel and towing to reach at least a spot around 38nm north of Bandar Beyla at the North-Eastern Somali Indian Ocean coast, which is called by the locals Hull (Xull), a tiny seasonal fishing camp.
From there local observers reported the group of hostages were taken around 20 km inland to a location called Hul Anod (Xuul Canood).
“On behalf of the Puntland state of Somalia, I want to say that we are very sad about the situation,” said Ahmed. “In order to save these people, let us wait. Any action, including military action and we have seen what happened to the American couple a couple of days ago, we don’t want that to happen again. … Let us wait, let us wait, please,” Gen. Abdirizak Ahmed, who heads the anti-piracy program in Puntland, Somalia’s semiautonomous northern region, where most pirates are based, told the media. He just had returned from attending a two-day workshop in Denmark this week on the legal aspects of prosecuting pirates.
Later Wednesday, the Danish government said it had established contact with the pirates and their hostages.
“They are doing well under the circumstances,” the Foreign Ministry said in a brief statement, which only stated further that a professional security firm was handling negotiations with the pirates, which hopefully will also bring to an end the many false stories peddled by Somali brokers, who in each of these cases offer their services.
The four adults and three children are now kept hostage on land, which was also confirmed by several of those Puntland elders, who are outraged about the case and want to try to achieve a release without conditions. The family hails from Kalundborg, west of Copenhagen, Denmark, where already popular outrage about the heinous crime as well as great support for the families of the hostages was expressed.
A military attempt to encircle Xuul Canood (Hul Anod) village was staged by Puntland forces on 10. March 2011. The militia which had come out of training – implemented by disputed mercenary company Saracen International and meanwhile banned from operating in Somalia – created havoc and senseless killing as predicted earlier. Ten Puntland soldiers, three alleged pirates, who had received reinforcement of about 200 men, and one civilian – a herder – were reportedly killed in the skirmish, while it is not even sure that the hostages had been at the village at that time. While it is sure that the operation was ordered by Puntland president Farole, using none of the men of his sub-clan, who are said to also be among the pirates, it was not yet confirmed that the Danish government paid for the ill-advised operation. Though a Danish newspaper stated that the seven Danes had been taken back onto their yacht, local observers stated that the family and the two deckhands had been split at the time of the attack into four groups held at different locations.
On 13. March the security minister of Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland Yousuf Ahmed Keyr blamed the international anti piracy forces operating in the Somali coastal waters for not helping to free the Danish family who are still in the hands of the pirates. He refused that ransom money would be paid to free the Danish captives.
“The government will not accept any ransom to be given. Now our forces are sourrounding the area”, Yousuf said in his speech, acknowledging that six Puntland soldiers had been killed and five wounded in a recent, botched attempt to free the hostages.
Ahmed Ugas, a Somali parliamentarian, who lived for many years in Demark urged all sides to excercise restraint and warned of a disaster like in the case of SY QUEST, if a rescue by force would be staged again.
Observers believe some of the Danes were after the attack brought on board of sea-jacked MV DOVER, which is floating off Bandar Beyla.
A group of Danish negotiators has held discussions with the local authorities in Puntland to secure the release of the secure Danish hostages.
Local elders, who demand the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages – among them three children – have so far made only slow progress and their efforts were interrupted by the interference of Puntland forces.
“It is our responsibility to show the international community that we are not happy with what our young boys are doing in holding innocent children and their elderly parents hostages on our soil,” the mayor of Bendar Beyla, Said Adan Ali, stated to the media.
Sources close to the elders of the gang holding the Danish hostages from the sailing yacht SY ING reported that the present negotiations between a Danish delegation in Bosasso and the hostage takers are bound to fail.
According to three separate sources the fact that the Danish delegation operates from Bosaaso in close co-operation with the Puntland government, while the armed forces of that administration had already once attacked the gang unsuccessfully and despite the botched attempt and international as well as local warnings again threatened to attack the hostage takers and their supporters in the near future with armed forces, makes it impossible for the hostage takers to trust the Danish negotiation team.
The Danish team had apparently contact with the hostage takers and according to the Danish Foreign Ministry also spoke to some hostages, but could so far not achieve their release.
All the hostages are said now to be held on sea-jacked MV DOVER, while SY ING is kept at the coast near Hurdiyo.
Analysts fear that the arrest by security forces from Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region of four men allegedly belonging to the group holding the seven Danes hostage will complicate matters.
A famous Somali Nabadon (peacemaker) who had started to negotiate the unconditional release of the hostages continues with his efforts, though many false rumours about the alleged wealth or the whereabouts of the hostages as well as an imminent attack by governmental forces drive all sides crazy.
MV DOVER : Seized February 28, 2011. At 06h06 UTC (09h06 LT) on 28 February, the Bulk Cargo Carrier MV DOVER (IMO 7433634) was pirated in position Latitude: 18°48N Longitude: 058°52E – approximately 260 nautical miles North East of Salalah in the Northern Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean. NATO and EU NAVFOR confirmed the seajacking.
The Panama-flagged, Greek owned bulker was en rout from Port Quasim (Pakistan) to Saleef (Yemen).
The 38,097 dwt MV DOVER has a crew of 23 (1 Russian, 3 Romanian and 19 Filipinos).
The MV DOVER was registered with MSC(HOA), and was reporting to UKMTO.
WORLDWIDE SHIPMANAGEMENT SA serves as shipmanager for registered owner DOVER NAVIGATION SA, sporting WORLDWIDE SHIPMANAGEMENT SA as ISM manager – all of Piraeus, Greece. The vessel has a valid safety certification, issued by the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping, but crew is not covered by an ITF agreement.
The Pirate action group with their launch vessel is still in the attack area, while the bulker is now commandeered towards Somalia and expected at the North-Eastern Indian Ocean coast of Somalia.
Initially there was no communication with the vessel.The condition of the crew is said to be unharmed and so far all right, given the circumstances. However, it is was reported that also the Danish yacht-sailing hostages are held on this vessel, which makes negotiations for the MV DOVER in the moment obsolete.
The vessel is now held, partly drifting (or intentionally changing positions), off the area between Bandar Beyla and Bargaal. At present MV DOVER is close to Hurdiyo, where also the sailing yacht SY ING is held.
Allegedly the specific group of hostage takers, which kidnapped the Danes, has paid out the original captors of MV DOVER and is now in charge of both cases.
MV SINAR KUDUS : Seized: March 16, 2011. At 16h42 UTC (13h42 LT) on 16. March 2011 the merchant vessel MV SINAR KUDUS (IMO: 9172507) was reported pirated en route from Singapore to Suez (Egypt) in position 14 21N and 059 25E while travelling 005 degrees at 6 kts. The attack happened around 300 nm northeast of Socotra Island and 250 nm South east of the Juzur al Hallaniyat (Kuria Muria) Islands of Oman in the south-western part of the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean. NATO confirmed the seajacking.
The Indonesian-flagged general cargo vessel of 8,911 dwt is listed to belong to SAMUDERA INDONESIA TBK PT as registered owner and is managed by SAMUDERA INDONESIA TBK PT, while SAMUDERA INDONESIA SHIP MANAGEMENT is the ISM manager – all residing at the same location in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The MV SINAR KUDUS has a crew of 20, all of Indonesian nationality, but no ITF agreement.
The Indonesian flagged Sinar Kudus was carrying 8,300 tonnes of ferronickel from Indonesia to Rotterdam, stated Iryanto Hutagaol, Samudera Indonesia’s corporate secretary.
EU NAVFOR confirmed but stated that details of the attack were not known to the naval group at that time it said initial reports from the crew stated that 30 to 50 pirates had boarded and taken control of the vessel.
There are conflicting reports concerning the question if the attack against this vessel was launched from a commandeered Iranian fishing vessel, the FV MORTEZA, with originally 14 Iranians on board or from another mother-ship.
The naval forces reported that within 24 hours of the attack, the MV SINAR KUDUS was used to launch a further attack on the Liberian flagged Bulk Carrier MV EMPEROR.
A skiff with 5 pirates on board was launched from the SINAR KUDUS and attacked the EMPEROR but was repelled by the armed force on the merchant vessel. The EMPEROR was subsequently reported to be safe.
The MV SINAR KUDUS and the MV EMPEROR were registered with MSC(HOA), and were reporting to UKMTO.
MV SINAR KUDUS remains in the hands of presumed Somali pirates.
According to local reports there are 52 pirates on board, which makes it likely that they will continue hunting for another vessel.
On 18 March at 17h50UTC MV SINAR KUDUS was observed in the Northern Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean at position 22 44N and 060 43E going 357 degrees at 11.2kts right into the shipping corridor leading to the Persian Gulf.
At 07h08 UTC on 20. March 2011 the vessel was reported in position 20 39N and 063 02E with course 147 at a speed of 12.4kts and at 12h12 UTC she was sailing in position 19 48N and 063 13E with course 223 degrees at a speed of 11.4kts.
On 21. March at 17h25 UTC she was observed in position 15 58N and 058 57 E.
On 22. March at 05h50 UTC she was observed in position 14 20N and 057 11E, with course 228 degrees and speed of 11kts
On 22. March at 13h24 UTC she was reported in position 13 24N and 056 09E with course 228 degrees and speed: 11kts.
On 24. March at 07h46 UTC she was observed in position 08 34N and 050 32E with course 211 degrees steaming with 12.8kts already along the Somali coast north of Eyl and towards Garacad.
First contacts were established and apparently the crew is all right, given the circumstances.
The revealed plan was to reach Hobyo, where the captors would exchange some of the men, only to load on more pirates and to maybe go out to sea again, presumably for another piracy spree.
At the moment MV SINAR KUDUS is slowly passing along the Somali Indian Ocean shores south of Eyl.
MSV QUBAIS : Seized March 17, 2011. The vessel was apparently captured in position 080555N and 05111E (off Eyl). Further details awaited.
MSV AL KHALIL (aka AL-KHALEEL) : Seized March 24, 2011. The Iran-flagged motorized dhow was captured 500Nm E of Minicoy islands. The pirates were operating from sea-jacked Iranian FV MORTEZA, which itself had been pirated earlier on 28. January 2011 off Mauritius and was then sunk on 27. March 2011 by the Indian Navy. Further details concerning the number of crew etc. are awaited. The vessel is commandeered towards Somalia.
MSV AL YASIN : Seized March 27, 2011. The vessel was captured in position 1533N and 05542E. Further details awaited. The motorized sailing dhow is at present commandeered towards Somalia.
MT ZIRKU : Seized on March 28, 2011. The Arabian-owened, UAE-flagged Crude Oil Tanker MT ZIRKU (IMO: 9237802) was reported pirated at 09h00 UTC (012h00 LT) on 28. March 2011 in position Latitude: 15 36N and Longitude: 057 04E , approximately 250 nautical miles South East of Salalah in the eastern part of the Gulf of Aden.
The 105,846 dwt tanker, built in 2003, was first attacked at 06h13 UTC by two pirate skiffs and was in this initial 10 minute assault fired upon by both RPG and small arms while on her way from Bashayer (Sudan) to Singapore. The master had by then increased speed, took evasive manoeuvres, and the crew fired rocket flares and activated the fire hoses, achieving that the pirates backed off. The Somali pirates then returned 15 minutes later with a more aggressive hit and managed again to come alongside. They achieved by overcoming water cannons and passing over two rows of razor wire to get on board the ship. It took approximately 30 minutes for them to gain control of the vessel and to hijack the tanker. NATO confirmed the attack and three hours later the pirates had the vessel and crew under their control, which also was confirmed.
MT ZIRKU has a crew of 29 (1 Croatian, 1 Iraqi, 1 Filipino, 1 Indian, 3 Jordanians, 3 Eqyptians, 2 Ukrainians and 17 Pakistanis). Though the vessel holds a safety certificate issued by Det Norske Veritas her crew is not covered by an ITF agreement.
The tanker carried a load of Nile Blend Crude Oil from Marsa Bashayer, Sudan. This is a new crude oil from recently developed oil fields in Sudan. The shipment of this grade by sea only started in September 1999 and its nature and the difficulties arising during its transportation are not widely known.
Nile Blend Crude Oil is a paraffinic crude oil with a high wax content, high pour point (+30°C to +36°C) and high wax appearance temperature (+39°C and above). The wax appearance temperature (WAT) or cloud point is the temperature at which waxy solids form by precipitation in the crude oil. At or below the WAT waxy solids will precipitate or settle out onto the tank bottoms and horizontal structural members. Once wax deposition occurs heating alone will not normally place the deposited wax back into suspension within the main body of the cargo.
The MV ZIRKU was registered with MSC(HOA), and was reporting to UKMTO, the command of EU NAVFOR admitted, who has at present no further information about the crew.
Classified by the American Bureau of Shipping the vessel is insured by The West of England Shipowners P&I Club – a classic object of Somali piracy in business as usual.
The vessel has since been commandeered to Somalia, reached the North Eastern Somali Indian Ocean coast, passed Bandar Beyla and Garacad and did reach Ceel Dhanaane.
FVs NN IRAN : Six more Iranian fishing vessels are missing and wanted. The dates when they were allegedly seajacked by Somali pirates are not known exactly, but we have at least on vessel name: FV HASSAM and four of their official registration numbers:4/2922, 4/2985, 4/3718 and 4/3739.
Unfortunately also no exact crew lists have been received, but it is estimated that at least 70 more Iranian fishermen are missing on these boats.
However, latest reports stated that two vessels had arrived back in Iran and we try to establish their identity and the fate of the others.
FV HASSAM was captured 70 nautical miles off the port of Eyl at the North-Eastern Indian Ocean coast of Somalia.
Please send any report concerning these vessels to office[at]ecoterra-international.org