World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

Status of Seized Vessels and Crews in Somalia and More

Status of Seized Vessels and Crews in Somalia, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean

(Ecoterra - 13. January 2011)

Status-Summary:
Today, 13. January 2011, 21h30 UTC,
At least 45 foreign vessels plus two barges are kept in Somali hands against the will of their owners, while at least 801
hostages or captives - including a South-African yachting couple - suffer to be released.

But even EU NAVFOR, who counts only high-value, mostly British insured vessels, admitted now that on their rather understating account over 680 hostages are recorded as kept on the abducted vessels on their list.

Since EU NAVFOR's inception two years ago the piracy has started in earnest and it has now completely escalated. Only knowledgeable analysts recognized the link.

Request the Somali Marine & Coastal Monitor from ECOTERRA Intl. for background info and see the updated map of the PIRACY COASTS OF SOMALIA.

What the Navies Off Somalia Never See:
http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/05/fighting_for_control_of_somali.html

What Foreign Soldiers in Somalia and even their Officers Never Seem to Realize:
The Scramble For Somalia

LATEST:
NOW OVER 800 SEAFARERS HELD HOSTAGE IN SOMALIA !

The number of sea-jacked vessels in 2010 clearly exceeded the pirates' catch of 2009 - an all time record, despite the fact that over 25 nations regularly patrol these waters.

For 2010 the recorded account around the Horn of Africa stands at 243 incidences with 202 direct attacks by Somali sea-shifta resulting in 74 sea-jackings. So far the impact of the navies has only caused the spreading of Somalia-based piracy all over the Indian Ocean. That only one in three attacks is successful is mainly due to the implementation of Best Management Practices employed by the vessels and not due to naval presence.

While billions are spend for the navies, the general militarization and mercenaries, still no help is coming forward to pacify and develop the coastal areas of Somalia.

INDIAN MERCHANT VESSEL SEA-JACKED (ecop-marine)

It has now transpired that the Indian dhow MV AL MUSA has been captured by presumed Somali pirates. The East African Seafarers Assistance Programme confirmed the report.

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.

CRUISE SHIP ESCAPES PIRATE ATTACK (ecop-marine)

"A report reaching here this afternoon shows that a Maltese flagged cruise ship Spirit of Adventure came under piracy attack while under way heading to Zanzibar en route to Mombasa," the East African Seafarers Assistance Programme (SAP) reported.

The cruise ship managed to escape the piracy attack and now she is safely steaming out to the the Island of Zanzibar, where she is expected this coming Sunday.

Aboard the cruise ship are 300 passengers, mainly British and Australians.

The cruise begun in Mauritius on 3rd January and it is expected to end in Mombasa on 17th January before the ship heads down South to Cape Town.

STRANGE TUG-BOAT INCIDENT UPDATE (ecop-marine)

Is has become more clear now that 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.

Until today EU NAVFOR only confirmed that one barge was captured but didn't release any detail about the attack and did neither report concerning the whereabouts of the tug, the crew or the security detail nor if during 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 statutory safety management certificate (IACS white list) of the old, 1975 built tug boat was re-assigned on 05. January 2009 for five years by Registro Italiano Navale, since it had expired already on 23. June 2008, which is also a further indication on the Italian connection of the tug and possible the whole convoy.

Mystery of Women Hostages Explained (ecop-marine)

There are persistent reports from the ground that 3 women, believed to be from Tanzania (1) and the Comores (2), are held hostage at the Somali coast off Hobyo in connection with one of the most recent piracy cases.

It is now believed that the information concerning a crew of 3 or 2 men and 3 women held apart from the crew of MT YORK, but at least part time on that and sometimes on other vessels, is correct.

So far neither the navies nor the yachting community had reported any missing sailing yacht or of a motor-yacht or cruiser from where these people could have come.

Some reports speculated that there also might be a link with Spanish co-owned, Mozambican-flagged fishing vessel FV VEGA 5, which is held now near Harardheere at the Somali coast close to much earlier sea-jacked MV RAK AFRICANA - another forgotten and abandoned case. But that seems rather unlikely now, since we could establish the nationalities of the three ladies.

It thereby becomes obvious that they must be part of the hostages from MV ALY ZOULFECAR the Comorian-flagged vessel seized on 03. November 2010 which originally had 9 crew members and 20 passengers. Allegedly there was back then already one casualty among these hostages.

If these women are now abused as special human shield on piracy missions carried out with earlier sea-jacked merchant vessels like the MT YORK, which just returned from a piracy trip far down to the Mozambican waters, has still to be established.

A proof-of-live report concerning these three women was received today from Hobyo.

MUST READ FEATURE:

PEACE-KEEPERS OR BIOLOGICAL WARFARE AGENTS ? By Venatrix Fulmen

A Call to End the Deadly Impact of Foreign Troopers on Innocent Civilians

OUTBREAK

+++Cholera+++RiftValleyFever+++MarburgFever+++DengueFever+++YellowFever+++HIV/AIDS+++

Malaria+++BirdFlu+++SwineFlu and so on - these lines run through the news tickers of media agencies every day. In well-off societies, at least the pharmaceutical industries are interested in upping the media hype in order to encourage the purchase of preventive treatments or remedies, but in underdeveloped, natural-disaster-affected or outright war zones, nobody cares - except those dying from it and their immediate families.

CHOLERA

The United Nations (UN) organization has finally set up an independent panel to investigate the source of cholera in Haiti. The move comes after accusations that UN peacekeepers from South Asia introduced the disease to the poverty-stricken country. The UN has previously denied any connection, and even now observers believe this UN investigation is just another exercise to bend pointing fingers.

However, fact is that since the outbreak began last October, thousands of people have died, and hundreds of thousands more have been infected by, a non-local strain of cholera in Haiti.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said the scientific panel was necessary to "find answers that the people of Haiti deserve," and added: "There are several theories of the origins of the cholera outbreak in Haiti - not all reports have reached the same conclusion." He also said at a news conference in December 2010 that "there remain fair questions and legitimate concerns which demand the best answers that science can provide," stipulating that the panel would be "completely independent" and “have full access to UN premises and personnel.”

But the deadly cholera in Haiti is a “South Asia strain,” which is why Nepalese peacekeepers became the object of local suspicion - partly also because cholera is very rare in Haiti but endemic to Nepal. In November, the US Center for Disease Control found that the cholera strain in Haiti closely resembled a South Asian strain. Also a leaked study by epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux, conducted on behalf of the French and Haitian governments, suggested the strain had been imported from South Asia. Sources who saw the report said it presented evidence the outbreak was caused by river contamination originating from the camp of the Nepalese troops. The Nepalese army denied the accusations, but finally admitted that their soldiers were not tested for cholera before being ordered to Haiti.

While the UN has said that health officials now estimate 650,000 people in Haiti could become infected with cholera over the next six months, nearly 250,000 people in the country have already contracted the disease. By now in January 2011 already over 3,500 people have died, according to Haitian health ministry data, due to this cholera outbreak and no way is in sight to achieve a mass immunization. Only 200,000 to 300,000 doses of vaccine against cholera are available worldwide, said Dr. Ciro de Quadros, executive vice president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute.

More people have now died due to Cholera than initially were killed as a result of the devastating earthquake, which struck the country to the day one year ago.

The Nepalese peacekeepers were tasked with providing safety to the civilian population, but the protectors turned out to be deadly vectors.

YELLOW FEVER

At the end of last year, news of a Yellow Fever outbreak finally came out in Uganda, even though the deadly disease had actually struck much earlier.

Yellow fever is an acute viral, potentially fatal, hemorrhagic disease transmitted by the female, mainly Aedes aegypti, mosquitoes. Left untreated, the disease which was thought to have been eradicated in most areas has an estimated 50% mortality rate.

The poor state of Uganda's health system is clearly evidenced by the fact that the Yellow Fever outbreak, which so far has killed over 45 people and sickened another 183, began in early November 2010, but was not even confirmed as yellow fever until December 23.

Although Uganda – with the help of the often criticized alliance formed between the pharmaceutical industry and affiliated aid-funds – is now planning to inoculate 2.5 million residents in the East African nation's northern districts, the most important hygienic measure, which is the contention of the outbreak to a small location, is lacking.

The U.S.-American military has imposed strictest controls in their camps, which were set up in Northern Uganda in anticipation of renewed fighting in Southern Sudan, but Uganda has not. Fighting could possibly be triggered by the ongoing referendum on the secession of the South from the North. The movements of people from the areas affected by Yellow Fever, who return to Southern Sudan to cast their vote, might further spread the outbreak.

The specific mosquitoes transmitting the disease are also prevalent in Sudan and even in Somalia, which just received another batch of Ugandan soldiers. Nobody in Mogadishu verified if these soldiers had their Yellow Fever vaccination and were free of the disease.

While there is no cultural stigma associated with monitoring Yellow Fever, the direct correlation between human behaviour and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases is completely ignored within the so-called peace-keeping missions.

SEX AS WEAPON - THE DOUBLE-EDGED DAGGER OF PEACE AND BUSINESS

Already in 1995, the UN declared that "forcing women to render sexual services is sexual slavery, a violation of their human rights, and that sexual slavery imposed by the military is a war crime.”

But as far as atrocities committed by UN peacekeepers in Africa are concerned, a 1996 study by Graca Machel on the impact of armed conflict on children revealed a rise in sex trafficking of women and children in areas where peacekeeping forces were operating. ...

- please continue reading by clicking HERE

©2011-ecoterra/ecop-marine

From the SMCM (Somali Marine and Coastal Monitor): (and with a view on news with an impact on Somalia)

Best defence-news article in quiet a long time:

OpEd: Navies Can’t Defeat Piracy ... You Savvy? By Nicolas von Kospoth, Managing Editor (defPro.com)

An (old) approach to fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia

Experts in the years before the 1970s were convinced that something such as piracy could not experience a renaissance after its zenith in the 18th century was ended by the technological progress of nations and their growing control of the world’s oceans and sea lanes, supported by the increasing effects of globalisation. Safe havens for pirates became rare and a noteworthy presence of piracy only sparked into life in very limited and politically unstable areas. With the collapse of all state authority in Somalia and the increasing local power of terrorist and fundamentalist Islamic groups, the coastal areas of the Horn of Africa became a perfect breeding ground for piracy.

The ultimate goal of piracy is to carry out raids that are particularly profitable. In this light, Somalia was naturally predisposed for pirate activities due to its explosive combination of political instability and its proximity to one of the world’s economically most important sea areas. The waters off the Horn of Africa represent a significant junction of international sea lanes, being the node for all maritime traffic coming from and going to the Eastern coast of Africa, the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean, as well as the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.

Not being able to solve the political problems of war-ravaged Somalia, the international community of states confines itself to protecting the vital sea lanes by naval task forces. NATO, the EU and United States-led operations, as well as smaller (multi-)national efforts, attempt to protect ships, repel pirate attacks and show their determination and military force with the hope of discouraging Somali pirates from continuing their dangerous business. However, despite regular announcements of successful interventions and of convoys of the UN World Food Program which safely reach their destination, the multi-national forces have so far not found any solution to effectively curtail piracy on the Horn of Africa.

According to the regularly updated information of Ecoterra Interational (6 January), at least 44 vessels and one barge are currently kept in the pirates’ hands, with at least 781 hostages or captives waiting for their release (EU NAVFOR confirms the existence of 650 hostages). With only few exceptions, the nations and ship owners generally have to resort to paying high ransoms to free their ships, crews and other hostages, thereby affirming the pirates in the success of their actions. In addition to the hundreds of million dollars that have already been paid to criminal Somali syndicates, the deployment of naval vessels and reconnaissance aircraft to the regions costs even more, not to mention the billions of dollars in development aid for the weak Somali government.

The latter is the international community’s only hope for a diplomatic ending of anarchy and further radicalisation in the region, as the author has already pointed out in an earlier article (see http://goo.gl/GKXOW). However, the increasing power of radical Islamic groups, such as Al-Shabaab, Hezb al-Islamiya and others, and the generally unpromising socio-political situation, make a diplomatic solution within the foreseeable future very unlikely.

LESSONS OF HISTORY

It has never been wasted time to look at history to find answers for today’s problems. Therefore, if piracy off the coast of Somalia cannot be tackled by conventional means, the political leadership should take a look at two historical examples of very similar and successful actions against piracy.

The preferred example of today’s analysts, politicians and military leaders has been the concerted naval action of local countries against piracy along the Strait of Malacca. However, neither the geographical nor the political and social conditions can be compared to the situation on the Horn of Africa. There are two more suitable parallels in history: the efforts of ancient Rome’s Pompey against piracy in the Mediterranean Sea and those of Woodes Rogers in the West Indies of the early 18th century.

POMPEY

During the 1st century B.C. the aspiring Roman Republic (soon to become the Roman Empire) saw its trade with the Middle East and, in particular, with Egypt threatened by pirate fleets. For centuries these pirates found safe havens in Anatolia and the extensive North African coast and had freely attacked and sacked coastal cities in Greece, Asia and Italy. Furthermore, vital corn supplies from Egypt and Pontus were required to nourish the Roman population. Therefore, any military operations against pirates in the Mediterranean Sea were extremely popular and brought fame and fortune for those who ventured to fight the pirates. However, these individual actions never succeeded in solving the problem.

Having been a Consul of Rome, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (today also known as Pompey) was asked to finally disrupt the Mediterranean piracy and to secure the important trade routes. Pompey knew that this task could not be accomplished exclusively by military power, although he established a naval force, reportedly consisting of up to five hundred ships, and started to push back the pirates bit by bit towards Cilicia, the ancient centre of piracy.

However, despite these initial military achievements, which began to produce panic among the pirates, Pompey also started to negotiate with his enemies. The key element of his strategy was to offer the pirates an alternative to their current life. They could choose between imminent destruction and a peaceful life as farmers or fishermen. Many accepted to be resettled by Pompey and, in the course of only a few months, all noteworthy pirate activity in the Mediterranean Sea came to an abrupt ending. Thus, by understanding and responding to the pirates’ nature, by offering an alternative and talking to his enemies, Pompey accomplished this incredibly challenging task.

WOODES ROGERS

More than seventeen hundred years after Pompey rid the Mediterranean Sea of the threat of large pirate fleets (at least for a decade) the colonial powers were burdened by pirates who intercepted ships, laden with resources exploited in the new world, on their routes to large colonial ports and to Europe. They also increasingly often attacked colonial towns in which they expected to find further riches, generally acting with unspeakable brutality. Many notorious pirate leaders achieved questionable fame and created the historical background for the romantic view that novels and movies created of piracy in the Caribbean.

Supported by wars between colonial powers, piracy temporarily even received a semi-legal character due to the Letters of Marque issued to disrupt the West Indies trade of the respective country’s enemies. However, it was a fallacy that piracy could be controlled.

After piracy had flourished in the West Indies for two hundred years, having produced a long series of uncountable crimes, suffering and economic losses, England decided to bring law and order to the Caribbean islands. Woodes Rogers, a former privateer and old acquaintance of many pirates who roamed the area at that time, was named Governor of the Bahamas in 1718, a young British colony and, at that time, the most significant hub for piracy (as Tortuga and Jamaica had been in the past). He immediately began to implement his carrot-and-stick policy. Personally knowing his adversaries and their way of life, he issued an ultimatum which divided the pirates. The better and more experienced pirates chose to accept Roger’s proposal and sailed to Madagascar or other distant places in the world, while mavericks and those who saw no way out preferred to pick up the fight. The latter could be easily tracked down and captured or killed by the Royal Navy, which had generally expanded its efforts against piracy in the Caribbean Sea during the past decades. With only few exceptions, piracy did not burden the Bahamas after Roger’s skilful intervention.

CONCLUSION

Both the Mediterranean Sea during the time of the Roman Republic, as well as the West Indies during the 17th century, were only controlled to a limited extent by the then leading powers and represented a perfect breeding ground for local warlords and ambitious adventurers. Similar to the current situation in Somalia, the result of these political, social and geographical conditions in both regions offered profitable prospects for large-scale piracy. Although it is unlikely that Rogers studied and followed the example of Pompey, both had a very similar approach. Both either new their adversaries very well (even personally, in some cases) or entered into a dialogue with the pirates. The show of force was an important element; however, more important, both divided the pirates and, thereby, reduced their strength and effectiveness.

The resulting question is, whether a similar approach could be adopted against the Somalia piracy. There is already a significant naval presence that evidently influenced and continues to influence the way and the area in which the pirates operate. However, as yet, it did not achieve the ending of piracy on the Horn of Africa. On the contrary, the pirates expanded their area of operations to the south and east, and the number and value of captured ships obviously still makes their undertakings worthwhile.

In April 2009, US Congressman Ron Paul suggested the reintroduction of “Letters of Marque” in support of the fight against piracy. However, this approach would have created a questionable legal and ethical situation. In particular, it would further increase the divide between the Muslim world and the western world, as it could be used for propaganda and for the recruitment of young fundamentalists.

Rather, the western community should seek suitable partners in Somalia and start a dialogue. So far, this is exclusively limited to the internationally accepted Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Mogadishu. The change must come from within Somalia, but naturally with strong and targeted financial support and guidance by western powers. It is unlikely, that such an approach can be officially adopted by a western government or multi-national organisation. As it requires a significant amount of money, influence and logistics, there are only few countries that could stem such an enterprise.

Independent of the specific means, which would be used to accomplish these aims, the two above outlined historical examples suggest that any successful approach should be based on:

• finding a suitable partner in Somalia, who is familiar with the pirate and militant networks;

• creating a rift within the pirate community by providing social and economic alternatives;

• continuing to show considerable force in international waters;

• using former pirates to locate, persuade or fight the remaining pirates.

It is self-evident that this is an extremely challenging approach in a country such as Somalia, which has not seen peace and stability for the past two decades. However, first, it would significantly reduce the burden for the deployed naval forces and, second, it would provide a worthwhile opportunity to increase the international community’s influence in Somalia.

In any case, the present situation is not acceptable. Whether the above approach is reasonable or even realistic may be questioned. However, the first step for any effective and sustainable solution will always be to seek a dialogue and to provide alternatives.

-----

Sustainable pole- and line fishing of tuna offers great development possibilities for Somali coastal communities, if they could get rid of piracy and find a helping hand to develop their co-operatives.

Retail giants commit to sell only pole and line caught tuna (FISH)

TWO leading supermarket groups, J Sainsbury and Tesco, have announced they will only source 100 per cent pole-and-line caught tuna. Sainsbury, which says it is the largest retailer of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified sustainable fish in the UK, said at the weekend it plans to introduce the regulation by the end of this month. It maintains that pole and line capture successfully minimises the by-catch of other species.

A statement from the retailer said all of Sainsbury's ready meals, sandwiches, pate, dips, salads, sandwich and potato fillers and sushi containing tuna will now be sourced using the more selective fishing method which practically eliminates bycatch of other species.

Sainsbury's moved all its own label canned tuna to pole and line caught in 2009, and as a result, was rated No.1 by Greenpeace for responsible sourcing. Tuna is the third biggest-selling fish in Sainsbury's and the move will now see 1,500 tonnes of fish move to the more sustainable catch method every year.

Meanwhile, Tesco has committed itself to sourcing 100 per cent pole-and- line caught tuna by the end of 2012 ahead of a new TV showdown with its old adversary Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall whose Fish Fight programme goes out on Channel 4 tonight.

In the three-part series he criticises Tesco over its claim to use responsible fishing methods to catch the tuna in its own-label cans. In the programme, he reads a label on a can, which states: "Tesco is fully committed to fishing methods which protect the marine environment and its species." He questions its "consistency or indeed validity".

Fearnley-Whittingstall then writes to Tesco, asking them to meet him. "Just imagine this [letter] arriving at Tesco towers - they're not going to be pleased, are they?" he says. Tesco confirmed it did meet with the chef but a spokesman claimed it had been "moving in this direction for some time".

Fearnley-Whittingstall said last night that he was delighted at the development.

Naval officer killed and three fishermen wounded in Mid-East clash (FISH)

A KUWAITI coastguard officer has been killed in a gun fire fight with Iraqi fishermen in the Persian Gulf.

Although tensions between the two countries are still high following Sadam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait 20 years ago, the incident is thought to be mainly fishing related and the fear is that there could be further similar attacks.

The Iraqi trawler was destroyed in the conflict which left three fishermen wounded and has led to a number of arrests. Walid al-Sharifi, an Iraqi official, has accused the Kuwaiti Coastguards of a serious violation, claiming the fishing vessel was in Iraqi waters. Mr Sharifi said: "This is a continuing series of attacks.No month passes without an attack.”

He said his office had received many complaints of torture from fishermen who had been stopped by Kuwaiti or Iranian security forces.

But the Kuwaiti government in a statement said on 11. January 2010 that the fishing boat had violated its national waters and that the crew members were smugglers.

In the statement the deputy prime minister and foreign minister, Sheik Mohamed Sabah al-Salim Alsubah, said he could not say whether the smuggling involved drugs or weapons for terrorists.

This is not the first incident in recent weeks. In October 13 Iraqi fishermen were arrested by Kuwait for illegal fishing.

In fact with fish stocks in the Middle East are under increased pressure, there is growing concern in that part of the world over illegal and unregulated fishing activities. The problem is that most fishermen now carry weapons, hence the death of the Kuwaiti officer yesterday.

Shady Naval Meeting of the Blue Water Imperialists

Gathering attended by only 32 of 198 countries of the world.

18th SHADE Meets to Discuss Counter-Piracy (CMF)

National representatives from 32 countries and numerous organisations met in Bahrain on Jan. 11 to discuss counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and the Somali Basin under the rotational chairmanship of the European Union Naval Force Somalia (EUNAVFOR).

The 18th Shared Awareness and Deconfliction Event (SHADE) included representatives of international law enforcement bodies, the shipping industry, Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), EUNAVFOR, Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa (MSC HOA), the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and international naval forces.

The SHADE meeting was established to provide a forum in which the various military elements engaged in counter-piracy operations in the region can discuss their successes and challenges, share best practice and co-ordinate forthcoming activities.

One of the significant topics discussed was the doctrine of ‘Best Management Practice’ which provides advice and guidance on countering piracy to merchant and private shipping in the region.

SHADE also enables representatives of the shipping industry to raise concerns on behalf of merchant traffic passing through the Gulf of Aden, the Somali Basin and the Indian Ocean.

----------------

SOMALI WATERWORLD

THE SITUATION ON SOMALIA's 6th ESTATE:

- YOU ARE PERSISTENTLY BEING LIED TO WITH IMPUNITY

- TRENDS

- SOLUTIONS PENDING

- ECOTERRA STATEMENT and

- THE WISH-LISTS FOR THE NAVIES, THE UN AND BAN KI-MOON

READ ALL AND UNDERSTAND AT: http://beforeitsnews.com/story/135118

and http://www.groundreport.com/Business/Send-NATO-and-their-Navies-to-the-Shrinks/2931537

HOSTAGE CASES UNDER OBSERVATION:

Genuine members of families of the abducted seafarers can call +254-719-603-176 for further details or send an e-mail in any language to office[AT]ecoterra-international.org

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.

FV AL-SHURA (AL-SHUVAL?) : Seized after February 20, 2010 and most likely on 25th February with one of 9 the Yemeni sailors being killed by the Somali pirate-attackers. Allegedly the pirates now left the vessel and the dhow was returned to her owner, but independent confirmation is still awaited from Yemen. A similar dhow named AL-SHUVAL was said to have be moored off Garacad at the North-Eastern Indian ocean coast off Somalia until recently and was observed at Dhanaane and then moved away. The vessel is now missing and as such confirmed by Yemeni authorities.

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 the some negotiations for the release started again, but have not been concluded, 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 is saying 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 is now 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 it is believed the vessel is out of fuel.

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.

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.

FV JIH-CHUN TSAI 68 (aka JIN CHUN TSAI NO 68) (68) : Seized March 30, 2010. The Taiwan-flagged and -owned fishing vessel with factory facility was attacked together with sister-ship Jui Man Fa (), 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 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 and 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.

MV RAK AFRIKANA : Seized April 11, 2010. The general cargo vessel MV 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. While China's Seafarers Union, based on an outdated ITF database, first spoke of 23 Chinese nationals as crew, the shipowner says there are 26 seamen from India, Pakistan and Tanzania on board. The actual crew-list has not been provided yet and the crew is not covered by an ITF agreement, but it could be established that the 26 member crew comprises of 11 Indians, including the captain, the second and third officer, as well as 10 Tanzanians and 5 Pakistanis. The vessel stopped briefly due to engine problems - around 280 nautical miles (520 kilometres) west of the Seychelles - but was then commandeered to Somalia and was held off Ceel Huur not far from Harardheere at the Central Somali Indian Ocean Coast, from where it was moved to Ga'an and further towards Hobyo, but then it was still held in the vicinity of Harardheere. When the pirates tried to leave the coast last time from that location they were pushed back by the navies to the shore and the vessel is now held near Xamdule (Hamdule is between Hobyo and Harardheere). The captors have forced the crew to fly the Italian flag, signalling an apparent beneficial owner of the vessel. Meanwhile negotiations had reportedly broken down - because the interpreter was confused by not knowing if he was talking to the right people - but seem now to have started again, though so far fruitless.

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

FV PRANTALAY 12 with a crew of 25

FV PRANTALAY 14 with a crew of 26

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 3 vessels are believed in the moment to hunt for larger prey, since the shipowner PT Interfisheries didn't secure their release.

FV PRANTALAY 14 returned in the meantime after having been used to capture another merchant vessel and is now held off Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast.

FV TAI YUAN 227 : Seized on May 06, 2010 in an area north of the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Seychelles as it headed for the Maldives. The Taiwanese fishing boat has a crew of 28 (9 Chinese, 3 Vietnamese, 3 Filipinos, 7 Kenyans and 2 from Mozambique). Taiwan's foreign ministry confirmed that the vessel had been seized after the Taipei Rescue Command Centre reported the incident to have taken place in approximate position 0105N-06750E. The ministry added that contact was made on Friday that week with the pirates who made an unspecified ransom demand, while the vessel is heading towards the Somali coast. The vessel has no authorization by the Indian Ocean Commission to fish in the Indian Ocean, which, however, is partly explained by the fact that China is opposed to Taiwan as flag state. Due to the inaction of the ship-owner and the Taiwan government to free the vessel, it was used again as launch for further piracy attacks. Vessel and crew was held off Habo at the Puntland coast of the Gulf of Aden, but now the Taiwanese fishing vessel is said by the NATO Shipping Centre (NSC) to be operating as pirate mother-ship within an area of a 200nm radius from 06 degrees 50 minutes north and 65 degrees 00 minutes east. NSC 'Counter Piracy Operation Ocean Shield' warns Masters . The vessel has even the potential to conduct pirate operations further out. The Tai Yuan 227 is a white hulled fishing vessel, approximately 50 metres long, with the registration numbers BH3Z87 painted in large black letters on the hull. NATO sounded a warning when at 21h00 UTC (18h00 local time) on October 19, 2010, the commandeered FV Tai Yuan 227 was sighted in position Latitude: 11°00N Longitude: 61°00E.

FV AL-DHAFIR : Seized on May 06 or 07, 2010 off the coast of Yemen. The Yemen coastguard of the Arabian peninsular state reported the case. 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 is said to be held at the Somali shore close to Kulub.

MSV SHUVAL : Seized May 08, 2010. No further information has been retrieved about the fate of this Yemen-flagged vessel. Vessel considered missing. Yemeni authorities are further investigating.

MT MOTIVATOR : Seized July 04, 2010. At 09h44 UTC (12h44 local time) on 4 July, the chemical tanker's captain reported they were under small arms fire from a pirate attack in position 13°16N / 042°56E in the northern Bab Al Mandeb area - around 50nm north of the Bab al-Mandeb and going south when she was attacked by two small vessels in the southern Red Sea. After the initial notification of this attack, unsuccessful attempts were made to contact the Greek-owned vessel. The capture then was confirmed early on 5. July at Latitude: 11°33N, Longitude: 045°28E in the Gulf of Aden. Position 11 ° 50 / 45 ° 00 is Point A of the internationally protected maritime shipping corridor through the Gulf of Aden, called the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC). The 18 Filipino seafarers on board the MT MOTIVATOR (IMO 9340386) are all accounted for and safe, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) stated. Philippine's executive director Enrico Fos of the DFA’s Office of the Under-secretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) said the seafarers were able to communicate with their families to let them know that all crew is well. “The pirates had also already called the ship’s principal earlier, but no demands have yet been made," he added back then. The MT MOTIVATOR, with a dead-weight of 13,065 tonnes has a crew of 18 Filipino nationals on board, though the Philippine government had ruled out that Pinoy crews could be allowed to sail these dangerous waters through the Gulf of Aden. The sea-jacked ship is a Marshall Islands flagged chemical and oil-products tanker loaded with lubrication-oil and therefore is posing the potential danger of an oil-spill. The vessel's registered owner is CLARION SHIPPING CO of Athens in Greece and there also the ship-manager EVALEND SHIPPING TANKERS CO SA resides, with Mr. Kriton Lendoudis at the centre. While at least one foreign warship intercepted the captured merchant-vessel's path towards the Somali coast and shadowed the situation, it has become clear that the pirate group hails from Puntland. The commandeered vessel stopped briefly north of Puntland and intended to proceed towards the pirate stronghold of Garacad, but it was then held close to Xabo (Habo) at the Gulf of Aden coast due to a dispute between the captors from Puntland and other pirate groups at Garacad. Xabo became infamous for the holding of two tugboats and their crews for over a year. Meanwhile negotiations seem to have become difficult while the Vessel and crew were then held off Bander Beyla at the North-Eastern Indian-Ocean coast of Puntland and only recently moved further south towards Eyl. Because negotiations had not reached anywhere and conflicts were reported, the vessel has been taken for another piracy spree and captured MV EMS RIVER, a vessel full of petrol in what an ECOTERRA spokeswoman in a report had described as an extremely dangerous situation, because a collision or other mishap during the attack could have led to a disastrous oil spill from the vessel used by the pirates as their launch, since it carries a huge load of lubrication oil and the attacked ship carries dangerous goods in form of a cargo of Petroleum.

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 and minutes later the Indian captain reported pirates on board.

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 from Panama in the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) when it was attacked. Immediately after the first report a helicopter was 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 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. 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 the year before) 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 later, 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 now anchored on 1. January 2011 at Garacad in position 0653N - 04922E.

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 are held by the Somali sea-gangs and a detailed report is awaited from the Yemen authorities.

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. Vessel and crew are at present held approx. 38nm off Eyl at the North-Eastern Indian Ocean coast of Somalia and different reports about 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 an engine problem. Vessel and crew are at present held off Kulub at the North-Eastern Indian Ocean coast of Somalia. Negotiations for a release have commenced.

FV GOLDEN WAVE 305 (sporting also the Korean name KEUMMI 305) : Seized October 09, 2010. The 241-to large South-Korean-owned but now apparently Kenyan-flagged fishing vessel, which had been transformed from an old merchant ship into a specialized fishing vessel, was already captured possibly in Somali waters, the East African Seafarers Assistance Programme (SAP) reported first.

The owners as well as the international navies kept mum until 17. October, when the British mastered Maritime Security Centre MSC(HOA) notified the case based on a statement by South Korea's Foreign Ministry.

Maritime observers working in Somalia with ECOTERRA Intl. had earlier confirmed that the vessel on that day was already held off the Central Somali coast off Harardheere (Xarardheere), from where then some movement again southwards was observed.

The owners, who had not reported the case earlier, said then that the position of the capture of the vessel and crew was 03:06S and 047:58E at 07h45 UTC (10h45 local) on 09. Oct. 2010 in the Somali Basin, which would be just 10 miles off the coast of Lamu on the north of the Kenyan coast and near the border with Somalia. But this report is highly questionable since local reports state that the vessel was boarded while inside the Somali waters.

However, ECOTERRA Intl. and SAP urged the Somalis to either open a formal and legal process to prosecute a case of illegal fishing, or to release the vessel, if there is evidence beyond any reasonable doubt that the ship and crew were not fishing illegally in Somali waters.

Since both countries, Kenya and Somalia have ratified the United Nations Common Law on the Sea (UNCLOS) since long, there is no doubt about the maritime boundary between the two states, despite the persistent haggling and attempts on higher levels to alter this.

The 241-ton trawler cum long-liner is very well known since many years for its poaching operations, which was confirmed also by the Malindi Marine Association in Kenya (MaMa-Sea) and ECOP marine, a group of marine protection specialists. The vessel had been illegally entering the Somali fishing grounds with impunity over many years and then usually kept hanging out at the North Kenya banks as well as even off Malindi in order to cover the traces of the illegal activities.

Though the judiciaries of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia as well as e.g. of the regional State of Galmudug still face serious problems, a legal process is possible everywhere in Somalia and not only in Somaliland and Puntland, where the international community has recognized the legal procedures and regularly hands over pirates arrested by the foreign navies into these systems, which even are sentencing people to death and execute the death penalty. Especially because there is an official moratorium on fishing by foreign-flagged vessels in Somali waters since 2008 firmly in place and no legal licences have been issued, the case must be dealt with in front of a court.

ECOTERRA Intl. spokesman Dr. Hans-Juergen Duwe called upon specialized legal organizations, judges and lawyers from benches in friendly nations to come forward and assist the Somali judiciaries in prosecuting such cases, which all too easily are otherwise then just brushed away as pure piracy and thereby kept away from the eyes of the legal eagles and the law - thereby encouraging other fish-poachers to copycat, since the risk to be captured by Somali coastguards or the real buccaneers is still rather minimal.

The vessel has a large crew of 43 seafarers with the South-Korean owner cum master and a South-Korean chief engineer as well as two Chinese officers and 39 Kenyans.

Their venture is specialized on scooping by pot-fishing the ever declining populations of coastal crab and rock lobsters, a delicacy for the top-market seafood restaurants the world over, as well as in long-line fishing for the high-priced yellow-fin tuna and Kingfish as well as the rare bill-fish like Marlin and Sailfish as well as the already endangered sword-fish. For the tuna-fishing it would also have to be registered with the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), but the vessel is not listed there - neither as Keummi 305 nor as Golden Wave.

Also in Kenya local fishing co-operatives as well as the associations of deep-sea anglers had complained since long about the detrimental activities of this specific vessel, which is persistently using illegal gear. While in the mostly unprotected waters of Somalia their clandestine deals usually were covered with a handful of dollars into the palms of some unscrupulous businessmen, local "authorities" or impoverished local fellows, they apparently also enjoy "protection" from certain cadres in Kenya. However, fishermen contacted at the Kenya coast today actually jubilated that this vessel had been finally captured by the Somalis.

The pirates haven't contacted the ship's agent in the south-eastern South-Korean port city of Busan for any possible negotiation, Yonhap news agency said. The fisheries company that owns the ship shut down its Busan head office due to financial troubles in 2007 and has been operating only with the Keummi 305, it said.

Reports state that Captain Kim Dae Gun himself, who is on board, is the owner of the vessel.

The vessel at first was brought to Harardheere and then moved south to be held around 90 nm south of Harardheere, but on 23. October was then observed by naval forces in the vicinity of the point where an LPG tanker was sea-jacked the very day 50nm off Mombasa.

Apparently the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) is no longer operating.

Negotiations have not yet started in earnest and families of the seafarers fear the vessel might again be misused for other dangerous piracy operations under a human shield for which the crew is abused.

The Captain of the Golden Wave 305 is urgent need of medication, and the whole crew may lack food soon.

The arrival of the 4,500-tonne Choi Young, a South Korean destroyer with a fresh batch of some 300 troops, at the end of December in the Gulf of Aden marked the sixth replacement of the Cheonghae unit since its deployment early last year under a US-led multinational anti-piracy campaign.

The fishing vessel and crew are at present held south of Ceel Gaan, close to Harardheere, at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast.

MV IZUMI (ISUMI) : Seized on October 10, 2010. The multi-purpose ship MV IZUMI (IMO 9414955) was captured while en route from Japan via Singapore to Kenya in Somali waters at 13h09 UTC in position 01 39S 042 05E, which is around 170 nautical miles (314 kilometers) south of Mogadishu, and has an all- Filipino crew of 20 seamen.

The ship, which has a deadweight of 20,170 tonnes, is owned by Japanese shipping company NYK-Hinode Line Ltd., one of the oldest shipping lines plying the routes from the Far East to East Africa, and is flying a flag of convenience from Panama. Managers are Fair Field Shipping KK [ Kaytaro G Sugahara]. In 1996, FCC was established in Conneticut/USA based Fairfield Group as a chemical principal occupation operator. Fairfield is part of Great American Lines Int'l, Inc., which was incorporated in 2004 in the U.S.State of Florida.

The MV IZUMI is a RoLo (roll-on lift-off), a hybrid vessel type with ramps serving vehicle decks but with other cargo decks accessible only by crane. The ship is under DIA S.A. contract and had been carrying steel products for the automotive industry from Japan via Singapore towards Mombasa, said its Tokyo-based operator NYK-Hinode Line.

While in the years back the company still had Japanese officers on board of their vessel, they have now all-Filipino crews despite the ban by the government of the Philippines to employ their nationals on routes endangered by piracy.

EU NAVFOR confirmed the case on 11. Oct. and reported the vessel at a position 170 miles (274 kilometres) south of the Somali capital of Mogadishu and as being commandeered northwards, while a Danish and the EU NAVFOR French warship FS FLOREAL were close by and were monitoring. Vessel and crew have been now commandeered to Xamdule (Hamdule) between Hobyo and Harardheere at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast.

Japan's transport minister Sumio Mabuchi on Tuesday said Tokyo was "nervously" watching developments while cooperating with the International Maritime Organization in dealing with the suspected pirate attack.

Japan last year joined the United States, China and more than 20 other countries in the maritime operation against pirates who have attacked ships off the Horn of Africa, a key route leading to the Suez Canal.

Tokyo has also dispatched two maritime surveillance aircraft and scores of military personnel to beef up its anti-piracy mission, although their operations are restricted by the country's pacifist constitution.

Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force has deployed two destroyers to escort ships in the pirate-infested gulf, and said last month that it had so far provided safe passage for more than 1,000 ships.

The vessel is

The Ro-Lo hybrid vessel was then anchored two miles from the coast, 6 miles north of Haradheere for some time, but now MV IZUMI with her hostages as human shield is at present used as piracy launch. First it was used in an attack against the merchant vessel MV TORM KANSAS near Pemba Island on the boundary between Kenya and Tanzania and on 06. November the EU NAVFOR Spanish warship ESPS INFANTA CHRISTINA and her escort object, the AMISOM weapons-transporter PETRA 1, became a target off the East coast of Somalia. The vessel is still out hunting.

At 23h40 UTC on 24 Dec the pirated MV IZUMI was reported in position 06°30 N - 052°18E, cruising 245° at a speed of 13 kts conducting mother-ship piracy operations.

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 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 near Socotra 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 Comorian MV ALY ZOULFECAR. Yemen authorities stated that it would not be a Yemeni vessel, but could possibly be from Iran. Further details awaited.

MT YORK : Seized October 23, 2010. The Singapore-flagged MT YORK (IMO 9220421), Liquid Petroleum Gas Carrier, had left Mombasa on 23. October in the morning at 06h00 en route to the Seychelles. The vessel was then attacked at around 17h30 local time (14h30 UTC) by two skiffs, approximately 98 nautical miles East of Mombasa in Kenya. The Turkish warship TCG GAZIANTEP, operating under the Combined Maritime Forces (Task Force 151) launched her helicopter to investigate and was able to observe pirates with weapons on board the vessel. The LPG Tanker is owned by Greek Interunity Management Corporation (IMC) and had just transported a cargo of liquified petroleum gas (LPG) to Mombasa.

Gerald Lim, a director of the ship owner York Maritime Company Private Ltd, said initially that there was no word on the ship or crew since it put out a distress call. After the attack the MT YORK was drifting but then began moving at 10 knots in the morning of 24. October, when then the Singapore-flagged LPG tanker,was finally confirmed pirated in the Somali Basin by EU NAVFOR. It seems that the South-Korean fishing vessel FV GOLDEN WAVE 305 (alias FV KEUMMI 305), captured from an illegal fishing trip in Somali waters on 9 October 2010, was used to sea-jack the MT YORK, which is under German-owned BERHARD SCHULTE Ship Management.

The tanker, with a dead-weight of 5,076 tons, has a crew of 17, including the German Master, two Ukrainians and 14 Filipinos. The vessel was commandeered towards Harardheere and Hobyo with a possible final holding ground off Garacad when it left the coast again and was at 03h04 UTC on 29. December reported as possibly conducting mother ship operations in position Latitude: 00°36N Longitude: 058°37. At 09h40 UTC on 31. December 2010 pirated MT YORK was observed in position 03°06 N - 064°02 E with a course of 270 deg. at speed 9 kts.

At 13h54UTC on 05. January 2011 the vessel was again observed in position 04°00 N 051°58 E, sailing with course 290° at speed 6.5 kts. It transpired on 10. January 2011 that MT York actually towed a sea-jacked tug-boat from north of the Seychelles towards Harardheere at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast.

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 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 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 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 is conducting piracy operations, using the surviving crew members as human shield.

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 floating. 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 is 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.

MV ALY ZOULFECAR : Seized November 03, 2010. The Comorian-flagged vessel a was pirated en route between the Comores and Dar Es Salam (Tanzania). The 43 meters long vessel was attacked in the morning of 3 November 2010 in position 05°15 S 043°39 E while in transit. Shortly thereafter the Master of the vessel reported that pirates were on board, EU NAFOR confirmed. The MV ALY ZOULFECAR has 29 people on board, of which 9 are crew members and 20 passengers. The crew consists of 1 Tanzanian, 4 Comorian and 4 Madagascar. The passengers consist of 12 Tanzanian and 8 Comorian. This makes a total of 13 Tanzanian, 12 Comorian and 4 Malagasy on board the pirated vessel. But it is said now that there is also a Kenyan woman on board, but maybe . Though yet unconfirmed, latest reports speak of at least one casualty on board. The vessel is slowly commandeered North along the Somali Indian Ocean coast, she passed Hobyo and is expected to be taken to Garacad.

MSV AL BOGARI : Sighted November 7, 2010, as being hijacked, no further data

PAKISTAN MSV : Seized on November 9, 2010. The motorized dhow with a so far unknown number of crew was sea-jacked around 850nm east from the NE-coast of Somalia in the Indian Ocean and then used to capture the Tunisian merchant ship MV HANNIBAL II three days later in the same wider area. The authorities of Pakistan have been informed and further information about the name of the vessel etc. are awaited.

MT HANNIBAL II : Seized November 11, 2010 In the early morning hours the Tunisian-owned and Panama-flagged chemical and oil-tanker MT HANNIBAL II (IMO 8011756) with a crew of 31 was taken at 04h35 UTC in position 11:26N – 066:05E off the coast of India while sailing to Suez from Pasir Gudang, Malaysia - ferrying vegetable oil.

"The master of the vessel reported that he had been attacked and boarded by pirates in an area some 860 nautical miles East of The Horn of Africa which is considerably closer to India than it is to Somalia," EU Navfor said in a statement.

The 31 men strong crew of the 24,105 tonne double-hull tanker consists of 23 Tunisians, four Filipinos, a Croat, a Georgian, a Russian and a Moroccan.

GABES MARINE TANKERS SARL as ship-manager fronts for the owner POLO NAVIGATION LTD - both of Ez Zahra, Tunisia.

Reportedly the chief engineer of the vessel was slightly injured with a hit of a gun-butt during the attack and the ship had at first arrived near Garacad at the North-Eastern Somali coast of the Indian Ocean.

At 01h05 UTC on 23. November 2010 MV HANNIBAL II was reported in position 10°30N 059°04E - apparently on a piracy mission.

At 06h31 UTC on 26. November 2010 MV HANNIBAL II was observed chasing a merchant vessel in position 18°50N 061°23E, course 300°, speed 7.8 knots. The pirated vessel was conducting piracy operations but then came to the Somali coast again.

On 17. December a crew-member with a serious medial condition was successfully evacuated with the consent of the captors of the vessel and in a joined naval medivac operation led by a Thai navy vessel as well as the immediate medical treatment on a German warship. The crew member of the hijacked vessel MV Hannibal II, who was released by the pirates, was then transferred to the Bouffard hospital in Djibouti after being treated for a suspected appendicitis by medical staff on board the EUNAVFOR German warship FGS HAMBURG. After being described as being stable and very happy to be free, he was transferred to a military hospital in Tunisia. Narrating his time as a hostage, he said: “We were all kept the whole time on the bridge of our ship. The only possibilities to move were the few minutes when we were allowed to go to eat. Most of the times we got some rice with fish.” Like in other cases pirates had offered the sick man to be released without conditions, but this is the first time that the ship-owner, captain and crew played along. In other cases like when a Ukrainian woman had an abortion, neither the vessel owner nor even the Ukrainian parliament facilitated a possible medical evacuation.

The vessel was moored off Dinowda Quorioweyn not far from Garacad at the north-eastern Indian Ocean coast of Somalia, but apparently now has left for another piracy operation.

At 13h37 UTC (10h00 local time) on 27 December 2010, a Pirate Action Group consisting of pirated vessel Hannibal II acting as mother-ship was reported in position 15 10N - 056 22E with course 165 and speed 14 kts.

At 06h00 UTC on 28. December the MV Hannbal II was then reported in position Latitude: 12°27N Longitude: 055°07E with course 226° at speed 11 kts.

On 01. January 2011 the attack skiff, which captured Algerian MV BILAN was launched from Hannibal II and at 08h40 UTC on 02. January 2011 pirated vessel Hannibal II was reported in position Latitude: 12 14N and Longitude: 054 54E - possibly looking for even more prey.

While the government seems busy to quell demonstrations of Tunisia's youth, which finally has revolution on its mind and protests against other shortcomings of their state, the vessel owners appear to be likewise unconcerned to solve the case quickly.

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.

According to the China Marine Rescue Centre (CMRC), the Chinese-owner-manager and Ningbo-based Hongyuan Ship Management Ltd (HONGYUAN MARINE CO LTD) in Zhejiang, China, had received a call just before midnight whereby the pirates informed that they were sailing the vessel owned by HONGAN SHIPPING CO LTD to Somalia.

The 22,356 dwt vessel flies a flag of convenience (FOC) from Panama, a flag-state who apparently even doesn't care when sailors are dying an unnatural death on their registered vessels.

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 is at present held off Dhanane, south of Garacad at the Indian Ocean coast of Somalia.

FV ALDUNAYN (aka FV DUL-NURAIN) : Seized on November 15, 2010. The Yemeni fishing vessel was captured from Hurdia, which is 40 miles from Bargal. Allegedly a Somali Muse Ali Mohamud Warfa (aka Ilkacase) a Majerteen whose sub-clan is Osman Mohamoud and who served as fishing agent on that boat, was killed and was then burried by elders from the Isse Mohamud subclan. The vessel was held for a time at Dhinawda which is 60 miles to Garacad, but was now in January 2010 observed as being on a piracy mission in the Northern Arabian Sea.

FV AL JEESH : Seized around November 18, 2010, maybe even together with FV ALDUNAYN. Fish-poacher, now used as piracy launch.

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.

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.

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 the 15North-60East area, which was later confirmed.

Further reports concerning the whereabouts of this vessel awaited.

FV LAKMINI 03 : Seized November 30, 2010. Sri Lankan 40 ft. fishing vessel FV LAKMINI 03 (Reg: IMUL-A-0453-KLT) was captured together with FV LAKMALI, which was later released but detained by the authorities at Minikoi island. FV Lakmini 03 was taken hostage while in international waters and after they had gone fishing from Beruwala, from where the vessel had departed on November 20, 2010. The pirates launched the attack from another commandeered vessel - the FV KANTARI 12.

The crew consists of six Sri Lankans and in addition two abducted fishermen from the earlier release FV LAKMALI: Mr. Lal Fernando and Mr. Sugath Fernando. The whereabouts of the two fishermen at the Somali coast could in the meantime be established.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry of Sri Lanka has requested their envoys in Nairobi / Kenya to follow up on these sea-jacking cases.

The vessel had arrived at the Somali coast off Garacad, but further details are not known yet.

MV JAHAN MONI : Seized December 05, 2010. The Bangladesh-flagged bulk carrier MV JAHAN MONI (IMO: 9102954) was sea-jacked by alleged Somali pirates position 08:12N – 071:55E, which is around 67 nm west of Minicoy Island and the merchant vessel was reported hijacked by six armed pirates and 26 people were taken hostage barely 70 nautical miles off the Indian Lakshadweep Islands. At 09h42 UTC on 05 December NATO reported the merchant vessel was under attack by pirates in 1 skiff in position 08°10N 071°43E. The vessel was attacked twice before being boarded by the heavily armed pirates and in an area, where a multi-ship task force of the Indian Navy was carrying out search operations in the Arabian Sea for pirate mother vessels. EU NAVFOR finally confirmed on 06 December that the bulker was pirated in the Somali Basin, approximately 1300 nautical miles East of Somalia, and only 300 nautical miles from the Indian mainland coast.

Apparently one of the previously sea-jacked fishing vessels was used to launch the attack.

The vessel was en route rom Indonesia with 43,150 tonnes of nickel ore on board to take them to Greece via Singapore.

It is owned by Mohammed Shajahan, owner of leading mild steel producing company KSRM and Bangladeshi shipping company Brave Royal. All people on board - 25 crew and one woman - are reported to be Bangladeshi.

The vessel was commandeered at a speed of 10 nautical miles towards the Somali coast and arrived there on Saturday 10. Dec. 2010 early morning, as was also confirmed by owner Mohammad Shahjahan for the owners and Rahmatullah, technical officer of Brave Royal Shipping Management Limited - the operating firm of the ship, confirmed - though they doesn't have contact yet. Marine superintendent of the company Captain Mohammad Golam Mostafa confirmed that the ship had been anchored at the east coast of Garacad.

Officials of SR Shipping Limited, the owning company of the hijacked ship, and its sister concern Brave Royal Shipping Management Limited held a meeting to chalk out the negotiation with the pirates, if they contact after reaching the shore.

The authorities could not yet contact with any of the crew or pirates. A satellite telephone to the ship on Saturday morning remained unanswered, Mostafa added.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has assured "all-out" support to free the vessel and crew, he said.

A senior Bangladesh Shipping Ministry official said: "Our first priority is to bring back the lady as soon as possible," referring to the wife of the chief engineer.

Mohammed Shahjahan, chairman of Brave Royal Shipping Management Limited that owns the ship, MV Jahan Moni, stated on Sunday, 12. December 2010, that the pirates put him through to the captain, chief engineer and the chief engineer's wife on telephone. They talked twice, at 2:30pm and at 7pm, he said. A serious conflict between two Somali groups, who claimed "ownership" of that vessel, broke out already before the vessel arrived at the Somali coast. It is held now off Dhanane, south of Garacad, at the Northern Somali Indian Ocean coast.

Owners of hijacked ship MV Jahan Moni claimed they could hardly make any headway over the rescue of the ship and its crew in a conversation with the Somali pirates on 06. January.

However, families of several crew-members on hostage blamed the owners for delaying in paying the ransom to the pirates. The crew-members talked to their family over telephone on Wednesday night.

The ship owner Mohammed Shajahan denied the allegation saying they could not progress much as the pirates were not regular in contact.

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 Northern Somali Indian Ocean coast.

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. Number of crew and fate not 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 is expected to reach the Somali waters by Friday and then only we can start negotiations. Past experiences show that the pirates start negotiations only after reaching their home country’s shores.”

YEMENI FV NN : Seized December 23, 2010. Somali pirates seized the Yemeni fishing vessel with four crew members around 120 nautical miles east of the Yemeni island of Socotra. Further details awaited.

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, went 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.

According to a report released by Iranian station PressTV, authorities in Thailand have threatened the Somali pirates with a crushing attack should they refuse to release the hijacked Thai-flagged cargo ship.

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 is at present held off Garacad at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast.

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 (), 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 has been moored now off Ceel Gaan at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast of Harardheere, but might be translocated towards Hobyo soon.

MV EMS RIVER : Seized December 27, 2010. At 13h03 UTC (10h03 local time) on 27 December 2010, German-owned MV EMS RIVER came under attack by a Pirate Action Group operating from sea-jacked MT MOTIVATOR acting as mother-ship in position 17 57.7N - 057 43.8E.

The crew managed to lock themselves into the citadel (strongroom), but later the seamen were overwhelmed.

The merchant ship was pirated approximately 175 nautical miles (280 kilometers) North East of the port of Salalah, Oman, EU NAVFOR's Wing Cmdr. Paddy O'Kennedy confirmed today, Tuesday.

Already on the day of the capture an ECOTERRA spokeswoman had described the situation in a report by ECOP-marine as extremely dangerous, because a collision or other mishap during the attack could have led to a disastrous oil spill from the MT MOTIVATOR used by the pirates as their launch, since it carries a huge load of lubrication oil and the attacked MV EMS RIVER carries likewise dangerous goods in form of a cargo of Petroleum.

MV MOTIVATOR was in the vicinity of Antigua/Barbuda-flagged EMS RIVER throughout the attack which further enforces the current pirate modus operandi of the use of already pirated large vessels as mother-ships.

The 5,200 dwt general cargo ship, which is was on her way to San Nicolas, Greece from Jebel Ali in the UAE at the time of the attack.

The relatively small general cargo ship - originally named MV GRONA BISSUM - with a gross tonnage of 3,500 has a crew of one Romanian, possibly of Russian origin, and seven Filipinos. It is managed by GRONA SHIPPING GMBH & CO KG for registered owner GRONA AMMERSUM, a subsidiary of Grona Tankers GmbH & Co KG.from Leer, Germany and is insured by Britannia Steamship Insurance Association Ltd.

MV EMS RIVER is a brand new vessel, which Mr. MARKKU JUHANNI VEDDER from Grona Shipping had received just this year.

The Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines stated: “The DFA-OUMWA (Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs) continues to coordinate closely with the concerned Philippine Embassies, the vessels' principals and the local manning agencies for the early and safe release of the seafarers.” The DFA added “The Philippine Foreign Liaison Officer to the Combined Maritime Command in Bahrain, Commander Gaudencio Collado, is now coordinating with naval authorities to resolve the case.”

NATO finally confirmed the sea-jacking also and observed the vessel on 28. December in position 15°21N - 057°52E being commandeered with course 211° at speed 11 knots towards Somalia.

FV VEGA 5 : Seized before December 28, 2010. The small Mozambique-flagged longliner 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 .The fishing vessel lost contact with the rest of the fleet three days before the end of the year and on 31 December, a Pescanova plane was able to locate the boat with 14 crew held hostage and a pirate skiff in tow, but it was not possible to have contact with the crew.

At 19h34UTC on 31. December 2010 the 24m-long,150 to vessel was then also reported by NATO in position latitude 14 28S and longitude 041 42E and as towing one skiff.

However, the attack likely occurred further south as the last position reported by the vessel monitoring system (VMS) was 21 55S - 035 53E.

After the kidnapping, the rest of the Pescamar fleet operating in the area retreated to port.

FV Vega 5 was spotted on 31. December 2010 near the Mozambique coast, approximately 200 nautical miles south-west of the Comoros Islands, heading north, the EU-Navfor anti-piracy mission said.

There have been several attacks over the Christmas period in waters south of central Mozambique in east Africa, underlining the extent to which international anti-piracy efforts, with China also cooperating with EU forces, have forced pirates to move further away from Somalia, AFP remarked.

There has been no further communication with the vessel. The nationalities of the 24 crew manning the 140-tonne fishing vessel are 2 Spaniards (the captain and the boatswain are Galician), 3 Indonesians and 19 Mozambicans. The vessel flies a Mozambican flag but one of the investors of the owner-company is from Spain, which is also why there are 2 Spaniards on board.

The "Vega 5" is operated by a Spanish multinational and Spanish-Mozambican company, PESCAMAR. The boat belongs to the firm Efripel Lda, in which the Mozambican government has some participation, but is operated by Pescamar Ld, a joint venture in which Pescanova has a significant amount of influence.

The Spanish partner in this venture, PESCANOVA, said on Monday that the ship is now under constant surveillance.

Mozambican Deputy Fisheries Minister Gabriel Muthisse confirmed that the ship has been seen moving northwards.

The head of the Ministry of Marine Affairs of the Xunta de Galicia, Rosa Quintana, meanwhile, said the boat "is located" and every six hours the owners received a report on the situation.

"Today, there have been a total of 44 ships seized, with 771 crew, which shows that the measures announced to eradicate the causes of pirate attacks are not being effective," said Bieito Lobeira, of the Spanish Nationalist Party, as reported by FIS.

The vessel has been taken to the coast off Harardheere at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast and the case seems to become complicated.


MV BLIDA : Seized January 01, 2010. At 15h36 UTC (12h36 LT) of New Year's day, the bulk carrier MV BLIDA 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 under a Ukrainian captain (17 Algerian, 6 Ukrainian - incl. captain-, 2 Filipinos, 1 Indonesian and 1 Jordanian).

The official version is that the vessel is carrying a 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 Wednesday 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 has arrived in Somalia and is now moored off Garacad at the North-Eastern Indian Ocean coast of Somalia marine observers reported.

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.

MV 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.

ENDS


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 


Binoy Kampmark: Europe Dries Up
Scenes and pictures have been circulating of broken earth, lacking moisture, cracked and yearning. But these are not from traditional drought-stricken parts of the planet, where the animal carcass assumes near totemic power... More>>



UN: Bachelet Alarmed By Number Of Palestinian Children Killed In Latest Escalation

UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet today expressed alarm at the high number of Palestinians, including children, killed and injured in the occupied Palestinian territory this year, including in intense hostilities between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza last weekend... More>>

Save The Children: One Year Under Taliban Rule, Girls Are More Isolated, Hungry, Sad: New Report
One year since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, an economic crisis, crippling drought and new restrictions have shattered girls’ lives, excluding them from society and leaving them hungry...
More>>

Somalia: ‘We Cannot Wait For Famine To Be Declared; We Must Act Now’
Rising acute food insecurity in Somalia has caused more than 900,000 people to flee their homes in search of humanitarian assistance since January last year, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned... More>>

UN: American West Faces Water And Power Shortages Due To Climate Crisis
Two of the largest reservoirs in the United States are at dangerously low levels due to the climate crisis and overconsumption of water, which could affect water and electricity supply for millions in six western states and Mexico, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) warned on Tuesday... More>>



Singapore: UN Experts Call For Immediate Moratorium On Executions For Drug Offences

UN experts* today condemned the execution of Nazeri Bin Lajim, a 64-year-old Malay Singaporean national convicted of drug offenses and urged the Government of Singapore to halt plans to execute individuals on death row for drug related charges... More>>