Counter-Piracy Updates: Status Of Seized Vessels And Crews
STATUS OF SEIZED VESSELS AND CREWS IN SOMALIA, THE GULF OF ADEN AND THE INDIAN OCEAN (ecoterra - 26. February 2011)
ECOTERRA Intl. and ECOP-marine serve concerning the counter-piracy issues as advocacy groups in their capacity as human rights, marine and maritime monitors as well as in co-operation with numerous other organizations, groups and individuals as information clearing-house. In difficult cases we have successfully served as mediators.
Today, 26. February 2011, 21h00 UTC, at least 50
foreign vessels plus two barges are kept in Somali hands
against the will of their owners, while at least 811
hostages or captives - including a South-African yachting
couple - suffer to be released.
But even EU NAVFOR, who mostly only counts high-value, often British insured vessels, admitted now that many dozens of vessels were sea-jacked despite their multi-million Euro efforts to protect shipping.
Having come under pressure, EU NAVFOR's operation ATALANTA felt now compelled to publish their updated piracy facts for those vessels, which EU NAVFOR admits had not been protected from pirates and were abducted. EU NAVFOR also admitted in February 2011 for the first time that actually a larger number of vessels and crews is held hostage than those listed on their file.
Since EU NAVFOR's inception at the end of 2008 the piracy off Somalia started in earnest and it has now completely escalated. Only knowledgeable analysts recognized the link.
Please see the situation map of the PIRACY COASTS OF SOMALIA (2011).
ECOTERRA members can also request the Somali Marine & Coastal Monitor for background info.
NAVIES OFF SOMALIA NEVER SEE:
Foreign Soldiers in Somalia and even their Officers Never
Seem to Realize:
The Scramble For Somalia
OVER 800 SEAFARERS HELD HOSTAGE IN SOMALIA !
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. Updates on known cases see below in the status section.
SUPPORT WANTED: With now over 50 cases to monitor and aide, our team has too much work. Volunteers from in and outside Somalia are therefore welcomed to support our efforts. Please send a mail to: office[AT]ecoterra-international.org IF YOU CAN AND WANT TO HELP.
Update on: MAYDAY - MAYDAY - MAYDAY
Pirated and abandoned Cargo&Passenger-Vessel located (ecop-marine)
A maritime surveillance plane found the MV ALY ZOULFICAR (aka Ali Zoulficar, aka Zouflicar) still drifting on the open sea and it seems that the people are still on board.
A rescue mission was now sent from Madagascar, which hopefully will bring good news, but so far it is not known if all the passengers and crew survived the ordeal.
Capt. Rolland Rasolofonirina, who heads the National Maritime Operations Centre of Madagascar and is the coordinator of the national focal point for anti-piracy, said four spotter planes were being used in the search, which found nothing on Wednesday, but then a maritime surveillance plane located the vessel.
Two Somali, a Tanzanian, a Malagasy and a Comorian crew-member accompanied by the Comorian captain of the vessel, had come to Madagascar by a skiff, left the others on the ship without any communication or fuel and are detained in Antsiranana for further investigation.
So far no information has transpired about the remaining 20 other passengers, five crew and possibly five Somalis still on the drifting vessel.
Since the Comoros-flagged motor vessel was, according to the master, taking on water, time is still of the essence, to rescue the remaining 30 souls.
(further details of this piracy case: See below in the status section - so far the vessel is not yet off the list).
DIRT-NUKE BACK TO UNITED ARAB EMIRATES ?
Undetonated radioactive package to be sent back from Italy to the UAE??? (ecop-marine)
Six months of suspense have passed as Italian authorities fear a terrorist weapon and are looking for a way of disposing of a container containing radioactive material that has been sitting on the dock at the port of Genoa. Now they only say: "Return to sender!"
The radiating container with a strong Cobalt source inside had been isolated and barricaded in Genoa, Italy, for now more than six months, and the favoured solution seems to be to sent it back to an unknown sender in its original location, the United Arab Emirates.
FOR ITALY WITH LOVE
The container is believed to have originated from Sun Metal Casting in Adjman in the UAE, and was supposed to be carrying 18 tonnes of copper for a customer north of Genoa.
It was exported through the Red Sea port of Jeddah and transshipped via Gioia Tauro to Genoa, Italy on July 20, 2010 - where it sat on the dock for several days until dock workers discovered by accident during a “technical review” of the terminal that this container was highly radioactive.
Now it has been six months since the radioactive container was discovered and it still has not been deactivated.
The "nearly-glowing" container was then placed in an isolated area and shielded by other containers filled with stones and water.
Further tests concluded that inside the container a small but powerful source of radiation is present and the highly radioactive container is feared to actually be a ticking nuclear 'dirty-bomb'.
Raising fears it may be a nuclear bomb ready to explode if opened, specialists say: “The opening of the container, which is necessary for decontamination, is anything but simple, and indeed, if the container is the act of a terrorist plot, would also be very dangerous, because the doors may be rigged to an explosive device.”
The radioactive box has been in the Voltri Terminal complex of Genoa now already since July 2010, but authorities were undecided of whether to open it by robot or remove it by barge, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica revealed.
The situation, described by container scanning expert Joe Alioto as “an ecological nightmare”, is reaching crisis point with the fears that the box could be a terrorist weapon and opening it could trigger an explosive device.
Joe Alioto,VP of Sales at VeriTainer of St Helena, California some 50 miles north of San Francisco, which manufactures container scanning systems, said it was likely that the container had been tampered with between Adjman and Jeddah on the Red Sea.
"There is no game plan for its disposal. I wouldn't go near it," said Joe Alioto and added: “This is a security and ecological disaster! The container is very nearly glowing with Cobalt-60; its contents are unknown and there is no game plan for its disposal.”
The radioactive materials shipped undetected from the Saudi peninsula to Italy, which has again highlighted the ongoing debate over container scanning. The box could just as easily have been transshipped to New York or any other major city port, said Alioto.
“In fact, 97% of containers arriving in the US are unscanned, then they remain on our docks, exposing 67 million Americans to the threat of a nuclear-radiation event until they are finally scanned when they leave the port.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S., security officials have warned about a “nuke in the box,” a nuclear or radiological weapon delivered through the supply chain.
The container landed about the time Italy joined the U.S. Department of Energy’s Megaports program. Under the program, the U.S. supplies foreign ports with radiation detection equipment, but detectors had not been deployed at Genoa.
SOLUTION - QUESTION MARK
Officials are currently exploring different methods to deactivate the container in Voltri Terminal complex, including a robot due to the unknown threat of the materials. They are estimating that the cost of remedying this situation will be €800K, perhaps €1M.
So-called security experts and port officials in Italy have reportedly been cooking up a means to detonate the radioactive container for months as they relocated the hazard to an off-limits area, since it continues to radiate dangerous Cobalt-60. To detonate the container, a robot was created to open the package, with hopes that the remote-controlled device would prevent any human contact with the cargo. However; in recent weeks, concerns came about as to the potential of the opened cargo detonating or releasing high toxicity around the port area. The safest resolve—say those in Genoa— "is to send the package back to where it came from: Perhaps the UAE will have a better solution."
That would possibly include further transshipments and the experts who try to work out how to deal with this 'security and ecological disaster' at Genoa port admit: “Many ports are surrounded by heavily populated areas, and detonating a nuclear or dirty bomb at a container terminal would be devastating.”
Meanwhile, 400 port workers in the Genoa have undergone blood tests and are being monitored by medical teams to determine if they have been contaminated by the radioactive leakage, since the cargo sat in the central port for nearly a week before the contamination was discovered.
Local politicians still continue to debate the handling of the radioactive container. One, Mr. Ferretti said: “This subject is very serious and I find it awkward and inappropriate that this container was unloaded on the ground and its radioactive qualities discovered only after dock workers were exposed to it for four or five days. Therefore, I will not join in my colleague’s applause of [the response].
"In the old days the Italian disposal Mafia would have taken care of it and just dumped it at the coast of Somalia," stated Abshir Waldo of the environmental organization ECOTERRA Intl. "while today we appreciate that even in Italy more attention is given to find a proper solution for such unforeseen problems with the potential of an ecological disaster. However, to send it back to the UAE is no solution and endangers many en route. Italy will have to come up with a proper plan - even if it is expensive, and they then can later figure out whom to send the bill."!
From the SMCM (Somali Marine and Coastal Monitor): (and with a view on news with an impact on Somalia)
The articles below - except where stated otherwise - are reproduced in accordance with Section 107 of title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States relating to fair-use and are for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.
No ransom from govt, pirates call hostages’ family by Nazia Sayed (mumbaimirror)
Parents of Ganesh Mohite, who was onboard a vessel that was hijacked in March 2010, running from pillar to post to get son freed.
It has been over 10 months since Ganesh Mohite’s parents have seen their only son or heard from him.Mohite, 24, a resident of Koparkhairane in Navi Mumbai, was onboard a vessel that was hijacked by Somali pirates in March 2010.
Concerned over the fate of their son’s life, the poor couple has been running from pillar to post seeking help to rescue their son, but in vain.
“There has been no response from any of the government authorities. We are not sure whether we will ever see our son alive.
The pirates have contacted the family members of the hostages and informed them that if they do not get the ransom, they will execute the hostages one by one,” said Pushpalata, Ganesh's mother.
The distressed couple has written letters and made several rounds to Mantralaya, the Prime Minister’s Office, CBI headquarters and the Director General of Shipping among others, but they have no news of their son.
After his matriculation, Mohite completed a one-year diploma course in Marine Shipping from a Khopoli-based college.
He soon got a job through an agent in Vashi for Dubai-based shipping company. On November 15, 2010, Ganesh boarded the vessel from Dubai which was hijacked by the pirates in the midway.
On March 29, 2010, a group of Somali pirates hijacked cargo vessel Iceberg-1 owned by Dubai-based shipping firm.
At the time of the attack, 24 seamen were onboard, including six Indians. Initially, the government allegedly tried to negotiate with the pirates but the talks failed as the government refused to give in to their demands.
The pirates then allegedly started contacting the families of the hostages and demanding ransom.
Ganesh’s father Mansingh alleges that the Director General of Shipping (Mumbai) only gave them the list of the Indian crew that was present on the vessel.
“They have not bothered to inform us about the current status of the crew or my son,” Mansingh said.
Apparently, a fortnight ago, the pirates made a ransom call to the Mohites and a nervous Ganesh told his parents that one of the hostages was tortured to death.
The captors had even threatened to blow up the vessel if their demands were not fulfilled.
Seafarers mock anti-piracy effort, mull Indian Ocean boycott
The global seafarers union has warned it would advise members against sailing in the Indian Ocean to avoid Somali pirates and mocked as "ludicrous" naval action that confiscate guns and set pirates free to strike again.
Over 800 seafarers are being held hostage by Somali pirates, who executed two seafarers last month and the grave increase in the level of violence against ships and seafarers has reached a tipping point which calls for bold countermeasures, the ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) said.
"They now routinely use death threats, torture and brutality," it said in a statement.
"We therefore advise seafarers and their trade unions to begin to prepare to refuse to go through the danger area, which includes the Gulf of Aden, off the Somali coast, the Arabian Sea and the wider Indian Ocean."
The ITF warned that should sailors boycott the piracy zone it would have serious effects on world trade and oil and food prices.
“The world has lost control of piracy," ITF seafarers’ section chair Dave Heindel said.
"Each day it’s becoming more savage and more widespread. All the Arabian Gulf and most of the Indian Ocean are now effectively lawless.
"Yet there is a way that control can be regained: by actively going after pirates, stopping them and prosecuting them. Not this ludicrous situation of taking away their guns and setting them free to strike again."
Although the world's most powerful navies have deployed warships to tackle Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean, the campaign is ineffective.
This is because of the inability to patrol such a vast ocean area and the inadequacy of international maritime laws, some over a century old, to deal with the legal complexities caused by modern piracy.
Ship owners, operators, charterers and shippers come from different countries, the ships themselves are manned by multinational crews and are registered with different flag states, anti-piracy patrols are done by several navies and regional states are reluctant to bear the burden of prosecuting pirates.
"The burden of dealing with pirates is being borne by a few nations and the burden of actually taking them to court by even fewer," said Heindel of the ITF seafarers’ section.
"We have repeatedly requested stronger intervention by all governments, including the flag of convenience states that are reaping the profits from so much of the world’s shipping fleet without meeting any of the obligations.
"If we daily allow a few thousand thugs to rack up the danger and violence then we will soon reach a point where there is no alternative but to stop putting people and ships within their reach – with all the effects that could have on world trade and oil and food prices.”
The ITF said these latest moves reflect growing concern or even disgust across the shipping industry that pirates are being allowed to endanger lives, kill and put a stranglehold on vital trade routes almost at will.
They warned that "ship owners and their crews will be re-evaluating their current determination to ensure that this vital trade route remains open – over 40 percent of the world’s seaborne oil passes through the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.
"The shipping industry will be looking at all possible options, including alternative routes, which could have a dramatic effect on transport costs and delivery times - piracy is already estimated to cost the global economy between 7-12 billion US dollars per year.”
The ITF also endorsed the need to neutralise the threat of the captured, hostage-crewed motherships that are allowing pirates to roam the Indian Ocean unmolested, recommended the carrying of military guards on ships, and recognised the use of private armed guards, subject to certain conditions.
"Flag States have the primary responsibility to exercise their jurisdiction over persons who have been apprehended in a situation where there are grounds to arrest them," the ITF said.
"The alleged pirates should receive a fair trial and, if found guilty, face proportionate criminal sanctions. To this end flag States should conclude suitable bilateral agreements with other States which have deployed naval forces to facilitate the speedy extradition of pirates to the flag State.
"Other States are encouraged to exercise jurisdiction over persons who have been apprehended by their naval forces and, where there are grounds, to subject them to a fair trial and, if found guilty, to proportionate criminal sanctions."
The Somali piracy crisis comes at a time when the global merchant marine faces an acute manpower shortage caused by difficulties in attracting seafarers to man the hundreds of new ships being deployed to cater to increasing world trade.
Needed: An on-shore solution for Somali piracy (TheNewsTribune)
It’s time to deal with Somalia’s pirates the old-fashioned way: by decisively putting them out of business, by whatever means.
It’s time to deal with Somalia’s pirates the old-fashioned way: by decisively putting them out of business, by whatever means.
The piracy claimed the lives of U.S. citizens for the first time Tuesday when a band of high-sea outlaws killed four American hostages, including Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay of Seattle.
This is a new and intolerable turn. Neither the murdered four nor their vessel promised the huge ransoms pirates have extorted by seizing large cargo vessels and their crews. The seizure may have been political in nature – perhaps a response to the 33-year sentence given a Somali pirate in a U.S. court last week.
The world’s inability to stop the hijacking of ships off the shores of East Africa is almost astonishing. Somali boatmen have been seizing vessels since the 1990s, their audacity and violence escalating dramatically in the last few years.
One of the largest naval operations in peacetime history has been mounted against them. More than two dozen countries – including China, Britain, Russia, Japan, India, Korea and the Netherlands – have joined the U.S. Sixth Fleet in patrolling the waters where the pirates operate.
Many pirate attempts have been stopped, and the hijackers themselves have sustained increasing casualties from naval forces. Nevertheless, Somalia’s pirates have been ranging farther into the high seas; they continue to seize dozens of large vessels every year and extort multi-million-dollar ransoms.
As of this week, they reportedly were holding 30 ships and 660 hostages. Naval action alone obviously won’t solve this problem. It’s telling that the hijacked yacht carrying the four Americans was being shadowed by special ops forces, drones and the USS Enterprise, an aircraft carrier – and it all came to naught.
The solution must happen on shore. The pirates themselves are flunkies dispatched by warlords and financiers who incur no personal risk and pocket immense returns from the hijackings. The pirate city of Harardhere actually features a stock exchange in which investors buy shares in planned attacks.
Any boatmen lost at sea are easily replaced. Bounties of thousands of dollars will lure no end of young men in a country where people subsist on the equivalent of a few dollars a day.
If there were a Somali government, it would ideally secure its own shoreline. What passes for a government at the moment controls only a corner of Mogadishu, the capital city.
But the hijackers could be denied their bases on land by coordinated international action – ideally working through the Somali government or the African peacekeeping force already on the ground, but directly if necessary.
The U.N. Security Council has already authorized military force against the pirates, and there’s no lack of countries eager to shut them down. What’s needed now is the leadership to make it happen. Your cue, Mr. Obama.
EDITORIAL: Deaths at sea are reflection of failed policy (LosAngelesTimes)
Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, Calif., lived a life many would envy, until it was cut short Tuesday by a band of Somali pirates. They had spent most of the past decade on their yacht, Quest, sailing to exotic locales and were on a trip from Thailand to the Mediterranean with another couple, Phyllis Macay and Robert Riggle of Seattle, when their boat was intercepted off the coast of Oman. All four were shot to death Tuesday by their captors after negotiations with U.S. naval officials for their release apparently broke down.
Pirates plying the seas off Somalia have been a scourge of international shipping for years, but this week's slayings mark the deadliest incident yet involving Americans. In response, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on foreign governments to contribute more toward the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia. Solutions to that country's piracy and governance problems are elusive, but the peacekeeping effort backed by Clinton isn't working, and U.S. policy toward Somalia could stand another look.
Tempting as it is to call for more naval involvement, it's clear that a purely military approach won't cut it. To avoid the U.S. 5th Fleet and other international warships plying the waters near Somalia, pirates are simply ranging farther afield; the seas between Somalia and India are too vast to be effectively patrolled. Meanwhile, every effort by the United States to intervene in Somali affairs since 1993, when the Clinton administration's attempts to subdue Mogadishu's warlords ended in the catastrophe chronicled in the film 'Black Hawk Down,' has backfired spectacularly.
The latest failed initiative is the so-called Transitional Federal Government, a United Nations fiction that controls a few square blocks in Mogadishu. The United States has invested millions of dollars arming a peacekeeping force to protect the TFG, which has little public support and is widely viewed by Somalis as an invading foreign force. Bronwyn E. Bruton, an Africa scholar with the Council on Foreign Relations, argues convincingly that the TFG is not only failing to spread democracy and the rule of law, it is actually strengthening radical Islamist movements by prompting quarrelsome extremist groups to unite against a common enemy.
Bronwyn's proposed solution is 'constructive disengagement,' in which the U.S. stops backing a failed U.N. experiment and vows to engage with any government that emerges, including an Islamist one, as long as it renounces international terrorism and agrees not to interfere with humanitarian relief workers. A government with a measure of legitimacy is far likelier to stabilize Somalia than the current puppet regime, even if it's not as secular as we'd like.
US navy killed hostages, say pirates
The high-seas shoot-out that left four Americans dead after their yacht was hijacked in the Indian Ocean was provoked by the US navy's intervention, Somali pirates said on Wednesday.
The US military said that four Americans onboard a yacht sailing from India to Djibouti captured on Friday had been killed by their pirate captors on Tuesday.
“We got information that the American hostages were killed after the US navy stormed the yacht,” a senior commander from the pirate lair of Garacad, in Somalia's northern self-declared state of Puntland, said.
“They tried to rescue the hostages but unfortunately heavy gunfire was exchanged and they (the hostages) died as a result,” the pirate, who asked to be named only as Ali, told AFP.
He did not further elaborate on the exact circumstances of the four hostages' death.
According to Vice Admiral Mark Fox, head of the US Naval Forces Central Command based in Bahrain, two of the pirates had been brought onboard a nearby US warship to conduct negotiations to free the hostages.
Then Tuesday morning, with “absolutely no warning,” the pirates launched a rocket-propelled grenade at the warship, the USS Sterett, though several Somalis also raised their arms in surrender on the yacht's deck, Fox said.
US Special Forces raced to the yacht on small boats. By the time they boarded, they heard gunfire and saw that all four Americans had been shot, Fox said. They died after efforts to treat them failed.
He said two pirates were killed in the assault.
Abdi Yare, a top commander in Hobyo, currently the main piracy hub in Somalia, rejected the US military's version of events, stressing that pirates have only ever been after ransoms and never shoot their hostages unprovoked.
“We are very surprised by the news of the hostages' death,” he told AFP by phone, adding that a scenario in which the hostages were killed by US bullets should not be ruled out.
“What I know is that pirates would never gun down their hostages without a reason and it can't be ruled out that they were caught in the crossfire,” said the pirate boss.
“The Americans have attempted reckless rescue operations before and now they have done it again,” he said.
Most of the hundreds of hijackings that have occurred off the Somali coast over the past three years have been resolved through the payment of a ransom, albeit after sometimes protracted negotiations.
The US said on Wednesday that it may bring the 15 Somali pirates to US courts for prosecution over the killings.
The US military said it would hold the pirates at sea until the Justice Department decides what to do in the case, which has led to calls by top US leaders to step up the fight against piracy.
“We will continue to hold them until new determinations are made,” said Colonel Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman.
“It has happened in the past before that we've had prosecution here in the US of pirates, so that's certainly one of the options,” he said.
Just last week, a US judge sentenced a teenage Somali pirate to nearly 34 years in prison for his part in the 2009 hijacking of another US ship, the Maersk Alabama.
That incident had a more successful outcome for US special forces, who freed the ship's captain, Richard Phillips, in an operation that killed three pirates.
In another deadly military intervention, French forces launched a commando operation to free a yacht held by pirates in 2009 and rescued a small child and his mother but killed his father.
The multi-billion-dollar naval deployments in the region have failed to stem piracy, which is currently at an all-time high, with more than 40 vessels and 800 hostages in pirate hands.
According to Ecoterra International, an NGO monitoring maritime activity in the region, many more yachts are currently waiting for a safe opportunity to cross the Indian Ocean.
The Dutch organisers of a Thailand to Turkey convoy of some 30 yachts have complained that their demands for naval protection have been either rejected or ignored.
They argued that the death of the four Americans was also the result of the world's anti-piracy operations neglecting the yachting community.
in deadly negotiation with pirates (McClatchy
U.S. negotiators told pirates holding four American hostages off the coast of Somalia that they would not be allowed to go ashore with their captives, U.S. officials said, one of several moves that heightened pressure on the pirates before the hostages were killed Tuesday.
The warning that the U.S. intended to block the pirates from taking the hostages onto Somali soil was communicated early in the four-day standoff as Navy ships shadowed the 58-foot yacht carrying the 19 Somalis and their prisoners, the officials said.
"The thought was, if these guys succeed in getting the hostages to shore we have almost no leverage anymore," said a U.S. defense official.
Another official called the decision not to allow the hostages to be taken to Somalia as "nonnegotiable." More than 700 hostages of various nationalities are currently being held on shore by pirates demanding ransom.
It remains a mystery what caused the outbreak of gunfire aboard the yacht that resulted in the shooting deaths of the two couples, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, Calif., and Phyllis Macay and Robert Riggle of Seattle. U.S. officials have played down the possibility that their negotiating tactics may have contributed to the deadly outcome.
Experts in hostage negotiations endorsed the decision to block the American from being taken off the yacht, saying it is always important in such situations not to let hostages be moved to a new location where recovering them would be more difficult.
"One of the goals is always to contain a situation as best you can," said Stephen Romano, a retired FBI hostage negotiator.
But several experts questioned whether the U.S. negotiators went too far in boxing in the pirates, which raised tension in an already fraught situation. An alternative might have been for the Navy not to tell the pirates that it intended to prevent the hostages from being removed.
"You never want to say no to a hostage-taker," said Dan O'Shea, a former Navy Seal who was a hostage negotiator at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad from 2004 to 2006. "They are already on edge. It wouldn't take a lot to put somebody over the edge."
Along with the warning that they would be blocked from moving the hostages, the U.S. negotiators, including a representative from the FBI, detained two of the Somalis who came aboard the USS Sterett to discuss a resolution of the crisis. The U.S. decided that the two pirates were "not serious" about negotiating and refused to permit them to return to the yacht, U.S. officials said.
The decision to detain the two pirates was first reported by The New York Times.
The four-day standoff came to a head Tuesday morning when a team of 15 Navy SEALs boarded the yacht after the pirates fired a rocket-propelled grenade at an American warship and gunfire broke out aboard the yacht. They found four hostages already fatally shot. Four of the 19 pirates were also killed.
Suddenly, a Rise in Piracy’s Price by
Jeffrey Gettleman (NYT)
For years, the infant American government, along with many others, had accepted the humiliating practice of paying tribute — essentially mob-style protection fees — to a handful of rulers in the Barbary states so that American ships crossing the Mediterranean would not get hijacked. But in 1801, Tripoli’s pasha, Yusuf Karamanli, tried to jack up his prices. Jefferson said no. And when the strongman turned his pirates loose on American ships, Jefferson sent in the Navy to bombard Tripoli, starting a war that eventually brought the Barbary states to their knees. Rampant piracy went to sleep for nearly 200 years.
The question now is: Are we nearing another enough-is-enough moment with pirates?
On Tuesday, Somali pirates shot and killed four American hostages. A single hostage intentionally killed by these pirates had been almost unheard of; four dead was unprecedented. Until now, the first thing that came to mind about Somalia’s buccaneers was that they were brash and mercurial. Just a few weeks ago they let go some Sri Lankan fishermen after they essentially said, “You’re poor, like us.” They were seen as a nuisance, albeit an expensive one, but not a lethal threat.
Exactly what happened Tuesday is still murky. Pirates in the Arabian Sea had hijacked a sailboat skippered by a retired couple from California, and when the American Navy closed in, the pirates got twitchy. Navy Seals rushed aboard but it was too late. It’s still not clear why the pirates would want to kill the hostages when their business model, which has raked in more than $100 million in the past few years, is based on ransoming captives alive.
“Of course, I do not know what the U.S. will do in response to this latest atrocity,” said Frank Lambert, a professor at Purdue who is an expert on the Barbary pirates. But, he said, “Jefferson advocated an armed response and eventually war against Tripoli for far less provocation.”
For years now, Somali pirates with fiberglass skiffs and salt-rusted Kalashnikovs have been commandeering ships along one of the most congested shipping routes in the world — the Gulf of Aden, a vital conduit for Middle East oil to Europe and the United States. More than 50 vessels are now held captive, from Thai fishing trawlers to European supertankers, with more than 800 hostages. Those numbers grow each year.
But the international response has been limited, partly because the most promising remedies are intensely complicated and risky. Western powers, including the United States, have sent warships to cruise Somalia’s coast and discourage attacks. When a vessel is hijacked, ship owners cough up a ransom, nowadays in the neighborhood of $5 million, and most of that cost gets passed to the end user — consumers. Until recently, most hostages would emerge unharmed, albeit skinny and pale from being locked in a filthy room. The average time in captivity is around six months.
But recently the pirates have been getting more vicious; reports have emerged of beatings, of being hung upside down, even of being forced at gunpoint to join in raids. And now the pirates have gunned down four Americans.
“I think there’s going to be some type of retaliation,” said a European diplomat in Nairobi, Kenya, who trades ideas on anti-piracy strategies with other diplomats and was instructed not to speak publicly about the issues. “I could see the Americans going after the pirate bosses, the organizers, maybe even blockade some of the ports that they use,” he speculated. “I don’t think the Americans are going to invade Somalia, because of Iraq and Afghanistan, but they can use local allies.” Another obvious possibility would be American Special Forces, who have killed terrorism suspects in Somalia.
The American government isn’t revealing its plans but officials suggest — as long as they are not quoted by name — that the killings of the four Americans could be a game-changer. “We get it,” said one State Department official. “We get the need to recalibrate.”
Any course of action, however, will confront two huge obstacles: the immensity of the sea and the depth of chaos in Somalia.
The pirates used to stick relatively close to Somalia’s shores. But now, using “mother ships” — hijacked vessels that serve as floating bases — they attack ships more than 1,000 miles away. Sometimes that puts them closer to India than to home. The red zone now covers more than one million square miles of water, an area naval officers say is impossible to control.
Piracy Inc. is a sprawling operation on land, too. It offers work to tens of thousands of Somalis — middle-managers, translators, bookkeepers, mechanics, gunsmiths, guards, boat builders, women who sell tea to pirates, others who sell them goats. In one of the poorest lands on earth, piracy isn’t just a business; it’s a lifeline.
And this gets to the real problem.
“The root cause is state failure,” the American official said.
Somalia’s central government collapsed more than 20 years ago, and now its landscape includes droughts, warlords, fighters allied to Al Qaeda, and malnutrition, suffering and death on a scale unseen just about anywhere else.
The United States and other Western powers are pouring millions of dollars into Somalia’s transitional government, an appointed body with little legitimacy on the ground, in the hope, perhaps vain, that it can rebuild the world’s most failed state and create an economy based on something like fishing or livestock. Young men then might be able to earn a living doing something other than sticking up ships.
But the transitional government has been divided, feckless and corrupt. Islamist rebels control much of the country. Few Somalis think the nation will stop being a war zone any time soon.
The shipping industry seems to know this.
“Until things change on land, you have to come down very hard on them at sea,” said Cyrus Mody, manager of the International Maritime Bureau in London.
Shipping companies are frustrated, he said, because while many pirates are apprehended at sea by foreign navies, the vast majority are typically released unless they are caught in the act of a hijacking a ship — which is a very narrow window because once pirates control a vessel, it’s extremely dangerous to intervene.
“The laws have to be amended,” Mr. Mody said. “Why would a skiff be 800 miles off Somalia with a rocket-propelled grenade, a ladder and extra barrels of fuel? What are they doing? Fishing? These people need to be arrested and prosecuted.”
The last resort is military action. Many people ask: Why not storm ashore and attack the pirate bases? These dens are well known. I even visited one last year and met a pirate boss who was using millions of dollars in ransoms to build a land-based army that at first glance looked more disciplined and better equipped than Somalia’s national army.
But the military option would not be pretty. The 800 or so captured seamen could be used as human shields. And no Western country has shown an appetite to send troops to Somalia, not after the Black Hawk Down fiasco of 1993, when ragtag Somali militiamen downed two American helicopters and killed 18 elite American troops. And a military attack could easily backfire. “They might kill a few pirates, but more would certainly spring up to replace them,” said Bronwyn Bruton, who wrote a widely discussed essay on Somalia. “The replacements would probably be even angrier and more violent.” In her essay, she advised the international community to essentially pull out and let Somalis sort out their problems on their own.
She added that collateral damage from a raid could be severe and “a lot of civilian casualties could actually wind up aggravating a much bigger security threat to the U.S. — terrorism.”
So it seems that Jefferson may have had an easier piracy problem to solve.
“I can offer a couple thoughts based on the U.S.’s dealing with pirates more than 200 years ago,” Mr. Lambert said. “If the U.S. response is a vigorous military response, it is likely to be difficult, costly, and prolonged” — a reference to the war that followed bombardment of the coast.
But, he warned, “If it is a continuation of the present policy (whatever that is), it is almost a certainty that we will see more or perhaps escalated atrocities. ‘’
PULL THE PLUG ON
CONCLUSION BY THE INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP
The decision to prop up the TFG at all cost has been a failure, feeding complacency and contributing to stalemate and humanitarian crises. Unless that decision is reviewed and the approach to the TFG rebalanced and pegged to solid benchmarks, no substantial improvement is likely in central and south Somalia. Additionally, the international community needs to reconsider its emphasis on restoring a European-style centralised state, based in Mogadishu, given the unhappy experiences Somalis have had with that concept. The logical alternative is a much more decentralised system in which most power and resources are devolved to local administrations, while the federal government takes a modest role of primarily coordinating the activities of those administrations. This would be a slow
process, but given the lack of progress in twenty years, it should be tried.
- see report for important DETAILS
Renewed fighting erupts in Mogadishu (AFP)
Fresh fighting broke out in Mogadishu on Friday as pro-government forces and their African Union backers continued an offensive against Al Qaeda-linked Shebab Islamists, sources said.
"Transitional government (TFG) forces, backed by AMISOM tanks, advanced on several key positions held by the Shebab in southern Mogadishu, in Holwadag and Wardhigley districts," Mohamed Adan, a colonel on the government side told AFP.
"The enemy had to evacuate several of its positions. The aim of this offensive is to chase Al Qaeda and its allies out of the country. The enemy is losing ground," Adan said.
The TFG and AMISOM, made up of 8,000 Ugandan and Burundian troops, claim to have taken several key Shebab positions in the southwest of the capital, including the former defence ministry and a former milk factory.
These advances, if they are confirmed, would represent significant progress for the Somali government forces, normally confined to a perimeter around the institutions of the fragile transitional government.
The Shebab for their part have been denying these advances for several days. They have shown journalists the bodies of at least seven AMISOM soldiers as well as seized military equipment and a Ugandan soldier taken prisoner.
Over the past week AMISOM has admitted losing eight of its men, among them three Burundians. There has been no indication as to casualties in the ranks of the Shebab but around 40 civilians have been killed, mostly by artillery fire.
Residents said the most intense fighting Friday morning was on Wadnaha road, a key position where the insurgents normally have their bases.
"We cannot leave our houses today. The fighting is too violent. Government soldiers are attacking the insurgents near Folorensa crossroads. For the moment we don't know who is in control of that area," Naimo Isak told AFP by phone.
There is no casualty estimate so far for Friday's fighting, which follows heavy fighting on Wednesday and over the weekend.
Tense Situation in Belet-Hawo After One Day of Fighting
Tense situation is reported from the town of Belet-hawo in Gedo region in southern Somalia after one day of battles between pro-government fighters backed Ahlu Sunna Waljama' and Al shabaab fighters.
Though the town is calmer compared to yesterday's confrontations, some of the people are fearful while others have already crossed into Kenya to escape from the renewed violence in the border town. There is a fear of confrontation every time as Al shabaab and pro-government fighters may clash again in the town.
Fighting on Wednesday did cost the lives of more than 15 people and wounded dozens more.
N.B. Fresh, heavy fighting reported near Mandera on Saturday.
parliament decision to extend term
Somalia’s interim president, Sheikh Sharif Sh. Ahmed has rejected the Somali parliamentarians’ decision to extend their mandate to three more years.
In a press conference he held in Villa Somalia, president Sharif said that MPs decision was taken without considerations.
“While taking into consideration the rule of law, the country’s current political status, security and economy, I have decided to reject the decision by the parliament,” he said.
Sheikh Sharif pointed out that both local and international backers are entitled to be included in every step taken by Somalia.
“Somali government and International Community, which has enormously shown concerns over the extension, should be considered,” he noted.
President Sheik Sharif’s refusal of parliament decision comes almost three weeks after lawmakers unanimously extended term to three years.
The decision by the parliament has received worldwide condemnation, with UN, US and EU calling on the lawmakers to rethink the decision.
Many analysts say, the transition parliament want its term extended beyond its August deadline so as to decide on the fate of the next interim government for the Horn of African nation.
Under the terms of a 2009 deal signed in neighbouring Djibouti, the TFG's mandate expires on Aug. 20 2011, by which time it should have enacted a new constitution and held a parliamentary election.
However, with the prevailing security situation on the ground, the transitional government led by President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed has not met the agreed required standard for the end of the interim mandate.
The war-torn Horn of Africa country has not had a functional central government for two decades. It is currently run by the internationally recognized Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which is protected by AU peacekeepers while facing deadly attacks by Islamist insurgent group of Al-Shabaab.
Nobody in the
U.S. war-governance seems to have read this 2010
Somalia - A New Approach (CouncilOnForeignRelations)
Even among failed states--those countries unable to exercise authority over their territory and provide the most basic services to their people--Somalia stands apart. A country of some nine million, it has lacked a central government since the fall of Mohamed Siad Barre's regime in 1991. Poverty and insecurity are endemic. Less than 40 percent of Somalis are literate, more than one in ten children dies before turning five, and a person born in Somalia today cannot assume with any confidence that he or she will reach the age of fifty.
Failed states provide fertile ground for terrorism, drug trafficking, and a host of other ills that threaten to spill beyond their borders. Somalia is thus a problem not just for Somalis but for the United States and the world. In particular, the specter of Somalia's providing a sanctuary for al-Qaeda has become an important concern, and piracy off Somalia's coast, which affects vital international shipping lanes, remains a menace.
In this Council Special Report, Bronwyn E. Bruton proposes a strategy to combat terrorism and promote development and stability in Somalia. She first outlines the recent political history involving the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) formed in 2004 and its Islamist opponents, chiefly the Shabaab, which has declared allegiance to al-Qaeda. She then analyzes U.S. interests in the country, including counterterrorism, piracy, and humanitarian concerns, as well as the prospect of broader regional instability.
Bruton argues that the current U.S. policy of supporting the TFG is proving ineffective and costly. The TFG is unable to improve security, deliver basic services, or move toward an agreement with Somalia's clans and opposition groups that would provide a stronger basis for governance. She also cites flaws in two alternative policies--a reinforced international military intervention to bolster the TFG or an offshore approach that seeks to contain terrorist threats with missiles and drones.
Instead, Bruton advances a strategy of "constructive disengagement." Notably, this calls for the United States to signal that it will accept an Islamist authority in Somalia--including the Shabaab--as long as it does not impede international humanitarian activities and refrains from both regional aggression and support for international jihad. As regards terrorism, the report recommends continued airstrikes to target al-Qaeda and other foreign terrorists while taking care to minimize civilian casualties. It argues for a decentralized approach to distributing U.S. foreign aid that works with existing local authorities and does not seek to build formal institutions. And the report counsels against an aggressive military response to piracy, making the case instead for initiatives to mobilize Somalis themselves against pirates.
Somalia: A New Approach takes on one of today's most vexing foreign policy challenges, offering concise analysis and thoughtful recommendations grounded in a realistic assessment of U.S. and international interests and capabilities. It is an important contribution to the debate over how to proceed in this most failed of states. This report was published by the Council on Foreign Relations Press is sponsored by CFR's Center for Preventive Action.
DOWNLOAD THE FULL TEXT OF THE REPORT HERE (2 MB PDF)
EUNAVFOR GERMAN WARSHIP FGS HAMBURG EVACUATES CASUALTY FROM MERCHANT VESSEL IN INDIAN OCEAN (EU NAVFOR PR)
Late on the evening of 23 February, EUNAVFOR warships in the Arabian Sea were alerted that an incident had occurred on board a German owned container vessel, 155 Nautical miles South East of the island of Socotra, resulting in burns to one of the crew.
A request for immediate assistance and possible medical evacuation was received soon after.
EUNAVFOR warship FGS HAMBURG, which was on Counter-Piracy patrol in the area, immediately launched its helicopter and evacuated the injured sailor. The casualty will be kept on board the FGS HAMBURG until she reaches her next port of call where he will be transferred to a local hospital for further treatment. The family of the injured Russian sailor, have been informed by the company. Details of the incident that resulted in the injuries are not known at this time.
This is the second time during the deployment of FGS HAMBURG with EUNAVFOR that the German frigate has provided medical assistance. In December 2010 a sick crew member of the pirated vessel HANNIBAL II was rescued by the vessel after a suspected appendicitis.
- FROM THE REST OF THE
WORLD (with an influence on Somalia and the water
57 Somalis Drown in Waters Near Yemen (VOA News)
The U.N. refugee agency says 57 Somalis drowned when their boat capsized Sunday in rough waters in the Gulf of Aden near southeast Yemen.
The agency reported Thursday that 54 of those who died were refugees and three were smugglers.
It said the only survivor swam nearly a full day before reaching the Yemeni coast near the town of Bir Ali.
The agency said 23 bodies had been recovered as of late Wednesday.
The head of the U.N. refugee agency, Antonio Guterres, said he and his colleagues are "horrified by this latest tragedy." He said the Gulf of Aden remains one of the deadliest routes for those fleeing conflicts, violence and human rights abuses in the Horn of Africa.
The agency said the drowning marked the largest loss of life in waters between Somalia and Yemen in one incident since January 2008, when 114 people drowned after a boat capsized.
It said 89 people have drowned or disappeared this year in waters between Somalia and Yemen.
Prosecutors reveal Somali pirates' connection to past hijacking (Yonhap)
South Korean prosecutors said Friday they have discovered that some of the five Somali pirates arrested for the hijacking of South Korean freighter in the Arabian Sea last month had participated in the kidnapping of its sister ship last year, which was released after a huge ransom was paid.
The five Somali pirates were captured in the South Korean naval commando's Jan. 21 operation to rescue the 11,500-ton chemical carrier, the Samho Jewelry, and have been investigated by the prosecution's special team in the southern port city of Busan. The naval operation killed eight other pirates and saved all 21 crew members, though the South Korean captain, Seok Hae-kyun, sustained several gunshots during the pre-dawn gun battle with the pirates.
Wrapping up an 18-day probe, the Busan Prosecutors' Office on Friday pressed six charges, including maritime robbery and attempted murder, against the five pirates.
"We have discovered that some of the pirates in the Samho Jewelry case were also involved in the kidnapping of the Samho Dream," Jeong Jeom-shik, the special team's chief investigator, told reporters at a briefing.
Two dozen crew members of the Samho Dream were released last November from seven months of captivity in Somalia after its owner, the Busan-based Samho Shipping, reportedly handed over more than US$9 million in ransom.
When the Samho Dream's crew members were asked to identify the captive pirates under detention here, some of them told investigators that they saw the faces of four or five Somali pirates while they were being taken hostage last year, Jeong said.
Prosecutors said that have secured three bullets removed from the injured skipper's body and two of them turned out to be stray bullets fired by South Korea's Cheonghae Unit during the pre-dawn raid.
According to prosecutors, the third bullet was fired from an AK-rifle, used by one of the pirates, while a fourth bullet, also removed from Seok's body, was lost in Oman along with belongings of a Korean hospital staff member.
Given the position of the bullet from the AK-rifle that penetrated the captain's abdomen, investigators pointed to it as the main factor that thrust Seok into critical condition, adding that the stray bullets were stuck in his side and right knee, respectively.
An earlier probe by police had concluded that only one was a stray bullet and another was a ship fragment from the crossfire on the ship.
Investigators suspect that 23-year-old pirate Arai Mahomed shot Captain Seok at point-blank range, but he still denies this allegation.
Under South Korean law, the pirates could be sentenced to at least five years in prison for hijacking the ship and life imprisonment or even death for firing at the captain from a close distance.
Regarding who was behind the piracy, the African pirates confessed to prosecutors that they have supporters who provide financial assistance, equipment and food as well as a ship owner and a kidnapping negotiator, officials said.
They noted, however, that it was hard to name the specific figures behind the crime as both the pirates' captain and vice leader were shot to death during the operation.
As court officials earlier said they will consider hearing the case with a civilian jury upon the request by the suspects, prosecutors have prepared legal proceedings for a jury trial, officials noted.
South Korea began to adopt the jury trial system in 2008 on a limited basis in which a jury is convened in criminal cases if a defendant asks the court to have civilians hear the case. The jury's verdict is non-bonding and the system remains in an experimental stage.
S. Korea charges pirates with attempted murder (AFP)
South Korean prosecutors Friday charged five suspected Somali pirates captured in January with attempted murder -- punishable by life imprisonment -- and said some had also seized one of Seoul's ships last year.
The five were captured during a dramatic raid by Seoul's navy commandos in the Arabian Sea and flown to South Korea, in the country's first legal attempt to punish foreign pirates.
Eight other pirates were killed during the raid on the South Korean-owned Samho Jewelry on January 15 while all 21 crew were rescued.
Captain Seok Hae-Kyun, 58, was shot several times and remains in a serious but stable condition.
Prosecutors in the southern port of Busan said a pirate identified as Arai Mahomed shot the captain when commandos launched their raid.
They said one bullet that seriously injured Seok matched Mahomed's gun and two that caused less serious wounds came from the commandos' weapons. Mahomed denied shooting the captain.
Prosecutors said they have brought six charges against each of the pirates, including maritime robbery, attempted murder, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, and kidnapping.
They said they have evidence including testimony from the Somalis and from crew members held hostage on the ship. It was not known when the trial would start.
Some of the pirates turned out to have taken part in the hijacking of a South Korean supertanker owned by the same firm last year, they said.
The 300,000-tonne Samho Dream and its 24 crew were released after a reported $9 million ransom payment.
The case is being closely watched by other countries tackling piracy, as is a similar one in Malaysia.
Earlier this month a Kuala Lumpur court charged seven Somali pirates with firing at Malaysian forces during a raid to free a hijacked tanker, under laws that carry the death penalty.
Piracy has surged in recent years off Somalia, a lawless, war-torn country that sits alongside one of the world's most important shipping routes.
But many of those caught by an international fleet of warships are freed because there is nowhere to try them.
Germany and Spain have recently taken steps to try suspected pirates in their own courts.
A New York court this month sentenced a teenaged Somali pirate captured in a dramatic high seas operation to nearly 34 years in prison.
Pirates to pay
part of ransom money to terrorist organization
GAC Protective Solutions says a maritime security alert has been issued for Somalia following a development in the relationship between pirate syndicates and radical Islamist organization al-Shabaab. The U.S. has designated al-Shabaab as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224 (as amended). Pirates in the harbor town of Xaraardheere have agreed to pay 20 percent of their ransom money to al-Shabaab in exchange for being allowed to use the town as a base for their activity, says GAC Protective Solutions. This cooperative relationship may not last, given that the two groups are ideologically opposed to one another. Furthermore, the agreement only came about after pirate syndicate leaders were captured by al-Shabaab, which indicates that it was not based on a particularly solid foundation and may not last for very long. The monetary relationship between the two sides is not likely to last. The town has previously been contested by groups such as Hizb ul-Islam and pirates will still be able to operate further north if they are forced to leave the area.
[COMMENT: Initiated again by a disputed Reuters report, the "Falcons"picked the issue of "pirate"-"terrorist" links up and they now spin it further. Analysts say that the divide is between those groups, who as insurers and risk management companies are in on the take during negations for the release of sea-jacked ships, which are filed as crime, and those, who are not, and therefore together with the political falcons like to see the whole issue be further criminalized under war-on-terror terms - so that their competitors in the field also could no longer pick the fruits.
The truth - like mostly - is to be found in between.
Some of the pirate groups already in the past hailed from areas like Baraawe and had very close relationships with the diverse conglomerate called Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen or in short Al-Shabaab (The Youth).
The propaganda machinery of those, who want to rubber-stamp sea-piracy and robbery on the High Seas as terrorism, now use the same line of argument as the Libyan Leader's family uses now to criminalize certain "outlaw" groups further, using the al-Qaeda tag.
If one would apply the same to the TFG government and openly see the many cases where TFG funds or equipment supported the HASAM, the whole governance in Mogadishu could no longer be touched with a ten-foot-pole - not even by the UN - under the war-on-terror orders of the United States of America.
Maybe it would not be a bad idea, some argue, to erect a high fence around Somalia and its seas, keep everybody from the outside off - especially the UN - and let the Somali people sort out their internal affairs by themselves. But it must then also be clear to those advocates that they would be held responsible for the death of seafarers on captured merchant ships, which could no longer be freed, or for atrocities e.g. in the warfare between the foreign proxies AU and TFG plotted against the HASAM in Mogadishu, or for the war-crimes under the renewed Jubaland initiative jointly carried out by Kenya, Ethiopia and the proxy-TFG right now against the people and the HASAM in the Gedo region of southern Somalia, which forms the triangle between Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.
Luckily Barack Obama's executive orders only apply so far to U.S.American citizens and luckily not everyone on this globe carries a U.S. passport, though it is feared that the European vassals of the U.S.A. might follow suite.
Having proven that they are obviously not able or willing to win the war on piracy with brains and certainly can not win it just with guns, they try to make the problem no longer one of everybody's concern but the few holding diplomatic immunity (maybe including some security contractors like Raymond Davis, the man now arrested and held in Pakist for double murder) by brushing the piracy cases under the all-covering carpet of anti-terrorism legislation and keeping it out of bounds for those, who could truly help to solve the real problems on these ships and more importantly on land.]
No to arms despite piracy (safety4sea)
Maritime piracy costs global economy $7bn-12bn a year
Despite the alarming number of piracy attacks, governments, ship owners and charterers are not keen to arm their crews or allow the use of armed security on board for protection.
National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC), which was earlier in discussions on placing private armed security teams aboard ships passing through the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden, has also stopped proposing for the said measure.
"Our management is of the view that ships should be allowed to carry arms but clients do not agree," Anwar Lodhi, technical manager, NITC, said. "For 16 times our ships have been attacked ...we have been fired by RBGs but there has been no casualty. We don't send ships in the area unless the ship has good speed. With big ships, we managed to escape. Piracy attack is on the increase but right now there are no weapons in the ships."
In an interview with this website in 2008, Mohammad Souri, Chairman and Managing Director of the NITC suggested vessels could be escorted by Coalition Naval Forces or establish their own armed security teams at the east and west entrances to the Gulf of Aden. He said some of the crew could also be equipped with armament for self-defence such as machine guns, barbed wire, flares, high-pressure water or long-range acoustic devices. There could also be internationally organised armed security teams, stationed at the two ends of the Gulf of Aden - Salalah and Djibouti - for the security of passing vessels.
At that time, he acknowledged that NITC has found very limited allies for this proposal. "Not many are in favour of this," Souri said. While seamen and marine professionals campaign for armed guards and heavy military response, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) advises ship owners to adopt measures such as having lookouts or travelling at speeds, which would allow them to outrun the pirates.
This is despite the fact that as per IMB's data, 53 ships were hijacked worldwide in 2010 (49 of them off Somalia's coast) with a record 1,181 hostages taken. In total, there were 445 pirate attacks in 2010, a 10 per cent increase from 2009. In terms of monetary damage, maritime piracy costs the global economy between $7 and $12 billion a year.
According to Oceans Beyond Piracy, ransoms have reached more than $148 million; insurance premiums were estimated at $460 million; re-routing ships cost $2.4 million to $3 billion; security equipment cost $363 million to $2.5 billion; spending on naval forces run as high as $2 billion, prosecutions at $31 million; anti-piracy organisations $19.5 million and the cost to regional economies slated at $1.25 billion.
In addition, while the shipping industry's muscles to combat piracy remains relatively weak, the pirates are getting stronger, using mother ships - previously kidnapped vessels moored far out at sea - to launch their increasingly audacious attacks.
Waleed Al Dawood, chief operating officer of United Arab Shipping Company said pirates have been speeding up their technology to match shipowner's security measures. "Certain measures have been taken like increasing the speed but pirates have found ways to deal with it as well."
Over the past five years, ransoms paid to Somali pirates have increased from an average of $150,000 in 2005 to $5.4 million in 2010, data from to Oceans Beyond Piracy, said.
The largest known ransom payment was for the South Korean oil tanker, the Samho Dream. This vessel was ransomed for a record $9.5 million in November 2010. By the end of 2010, about $238 million was paid in ransoms to Somali pirates in that year alone. Insurance premiums are also sky-rocketing. Shippers purchase four main types of insurance as indemnity against piracy: war risk, kidnap and ransom (K&R), cargo, and hull.
The most significant increase in premiums has been in 'war risk' and K&R. The Gulf of Aden was classified as a 'war risk area' by Lloyds Market Association (LMA) Joint War Committee in May 2008, and is therefore subject to these specific insurance premiums.
The Cost of Piracy Model calculates the additional cost of insurance to the shipping industry by using a lower bound estimate (10 per cent of ships purchasing these insurance premiums) and an upper bound estimate (70 per cent of ships). From these calculations, Oceans Beyond Piracy estimate that total excess costs of insurance due to Somali piracy are between $460 million and $3.2 billion per year.
Then there's the secondary (macroeconomic) costs of piracy. Industry studies show that international trade routes are threatened and goods in the region as well as Somalia are becoming more expensive.
Egypt, for example, is estimated to be incurring $642 million loss per year from Suez Canal fees as ships re-route away from the Gulf of Aden.
Piracy in the Gulf of Aden has become a substantial detriment to the shipping industry. Diverting from the passage around the Cape means higher operating cost, extra fuel consumption and extra pollution.
Foreign navies have boosted activities off the Gulf of Aden since 2009 and have operated convoys, as well as setting up a transit corridor across dangerous waters. But their forces have been stretched over the vast area, leaving ships vulnerable.
An estimated 7 per cent of world oil consumption passes through the Gulf of Aden.Ship brokers have said some tankers are travelling as far as Madagascar or even around the Cape of Good Hope to avoid seaborne gangs.
Peter Swift, Managing Director of INTERTANKO, says 40 per cent of ships operating today either have been captured or intercepted . "These ships were subsequently released not just once, twice but sometimes three times - this means same people have been active in these attacks," he said.
"This problem will not go away tomorrow," he said. " This may persist for couple of years and who knows beyond that. What do we need? We need partnerships with the government and industry. We are all reliant on governments to keep international highways open, that is not the job of merchant shipping. As owners and operators, it is our job to be sensible in best practices. When we do our part then we have a legitimate case to make to the UN, governments. We need to have governments do their part."
Piracy also increases marine insurance cost. The damage to property and more so to seafarers' lives are significant. Tankers need to pass through one or more of three choke point entrances - the Red Sea (Bal Al Mandeb), Arabian Gulf (Strait of Hormuz) and the Malacca Strait (between Indonesia and Malaysia) to transport oil.
The trade impact to Kenya and Yemen is slated at $414 million and $150 million, respectively. Losses to oil and fishing industry in Nigeria is about $42 million and losses to fishing and tourism industry is estimated at $6 million.
How Indian Ocean pirates left me shaking with fear (TheIndependent)
Bamford: "What seemed like a fairly benign ocean for the past week has now taken on a menacing quality."
After five months at sea, Emma Bamford reports on the hijackers making sailing homewards more dangerous than ever
I am sitting at the helm of the sailing yacht Gillaroo in the middle of the Indian Ocean, about four days away from Oman, and I am shaking with fear. When I got up for my shift on watch this morning we had had an email from a friend in the UK, telling us about the Somali pirate hijacking of the American yacht Quest two days ago.
The owners, an older couple, and their two crew members were taken less than 200 miles from where we are now. I feel incredibly vulnerable.
For the past five months I have been sailing around South East Asia on the Irish-flagged 48ft catamaran Gillaroo. Before we left Galle in Sri Lanka on 12 February there were rumours among the yachting community that pirate attacks this year would strike further east than ever before. One captain stated boldly that “this will be the first year that not all cruising boats get through to the Red Sea”.
For Gillaroo it was a concern but one to be pushed to the back of our minds. Our catamaran is nearly on the home straight, having set sail west to navigate in 2008 on a three-year trip that took in the Canaries, Caribbean, Panama canal, South Pacific islands, New Zealand and Asia. From Sri Lanka there are only two ways back to Europe: around the Cape of Good Hope and through the Gulf of Aden.
On board Dublin-registered Gillaroo is the captain, Tyrone Currie, a boat-builder from Northern Ireland, and two volunteer crew – Moe Kafer, a UK-based Canadian photographer who joined two days before we left Sri Lanka, and myself. A Spanish couple pulled out just before we set off because they were worried about pirates. We pooh-poohed their fears then. Now, helpless and 600 miles from safety, I wonder if theirs was the right decision.
Right now there are about 90 cruising boats heading north-west from Sri Lanka, India and the Maldives to the Red Sea via Oman and Yemen. The north-east monsoon brings with it a short weather window with good winds to make the passage.
We were not unaware of the risks. Two cargo ships were hijacked by Somali pirates on 8 and 9 February. We contacted the various authorities tasked with patrolling the waters and monitoring the area – the combined European naval forces (EU NAVFOR), the UK Maritime Trade Organisation (UKMTO) and the Maritime Security Centre, Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) – and registered our details with them. We were promised that they would track our position and email to warn us of any pirate activity in the vicinity so we could alter our course if need be. They have failed to do so. Their priority is to the food ships going to and from Africa, not to the 200-plus husbands and wives, friends and children sailing towards home in the same waters in slow boats with no weapons to protect themselves.
There is a patrolled “transit corridor” running through the Gulf of Aden, from Oman to Yemen, along which boats are advised to travel in small groups, or convoys, in order to minimise the risk of attack. The corridor was established in an area where pirate activity was previously highest. Pirates would set off from the coast of Somalia in small open boats, or skiffs. The size of their vessels restricted their range, therefore most attacks were relatively close to shore. Wildly high on qat, a chewable narcotic leaf, there is allegedly little reasoning with them. The saving grace is that they tend not to shoot their hostages. Instead they hold them for, in some cases, more than a year, as with the British sailing couple Paul and Rachel Chandler, until their ransom is paid.
But lately their technique has changed and it is this that has enabled them to strike further away from Somalia’s coast, rendering the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean dangerous. Now they deploy mother ships – much bigger vessels that can travel faster and therefore further. Sometimes these mother ships are boats that have themselves been hijacked. From these they can launch their smaller skiffs to approach their targets.
There are scant precautions we can take. Twice a day, over the shortband radio, we talk to other boats we know who are crossing the Indian Ocean. We all give our positions in code – our distance from and bearing to a specific location we all have the co-ordinates of. There is a feeling of relief when we hear one of our friends has made it to Oman safely. We use no lights at night; if a sail needs changing, we do it in the dark. What seemed like a fairly benign ocean for the past week has now taken on a menacing quality.
We don’t know what to do or what will happen. If the pirates with the Quest’s crew head straight back to the Somali coast, they will cross our path. The equally frightening scenario is they may hang around in the area.
All around me is clear horizon with not even a cargo ship to break its line. What lies beyond that horizon is anyone’s guess – a clear path of blue water to Oman or a mother ship of Somalian pirates with guns waiting? I have four days to wonder.
TRYING TO CASH IN FROM BOTH ENDS - ARE SOME INSURERS IN THE MIDDLE?
London insurers to launch pay-as-you-go armed anti-pirate patrols (SchedNet)
PIRACY costs are rising so high that London underwriters plan to launch a squadron of armed escort vessels to protect ships transiting the Gulf of Aden this summer.
Under the scheme, reports London's International Freighting Weekly, London underwriters will provide armed escort protection after applying for it through Lloyd's of London insurance brokers.
Insurers Convoy Escort Programme (CEP) will be launched this summer, under project leader Sean Woollerson, a partner in the marine, oil and gas division at insurance broker Jardine Lloyd Thompson.
Mr Woollerson said he needs to raise US$27.5 million to buy 18 vessels, which will carry eight armed guards, four crew and inflatable speedboats.
The Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) has agreed to help facilitate the programme that will provide armed escorts, packaged with seven days of war-risk cover from Ascot Underwriting's Lloyd's Syndicate 1414. This way, the shipowner need not to pay the higher premium normally required through high-risk pirate areas.
insurance for shipping firms set to rise this year
Marine insurance for shipping companies has increased significantly over the last year and it looks set to rise even higher this year. Analysts said that a typical bulk carrier valued at US$50 million will now have to pay an estimated additional premium of US$50,000 a month.
This is partly due to rising piracy risks and political unrest in the region. But analysts said the higher shipping costs would only be passed on to consumers and this would further add to their inflation woes. Analysts said the outlook for the shipping industry looks rough this year.
Marine insurers are charging shipowners, such as Rickmers Maritime, higher insurance premiums and this will raise shipping rates. Analysts said this is due to rising piracy risks globally. Thomas Preben Hansen, CEO of Rickmers Trust Management, said: "There is no doubt, (with) additional war-risk premiums, which (are) put in place in the piracy-prone areas, the typical container carrier is faced with up to 30,000 to 40,000 dollars additional premiums (when) going through the piracy area."
Analysts added that with the political uncertainty in Korea and unrest in the Middle East, the insurance premiums for ships will rise even higher this year. Teddy Tsai, deputy head of research at DnB Nor Bank, said: "Cargo cover will be influenced by higher events around the world. Last year, we saw things like the Korean missile test and things like that; some of these things can continue this year."
Shipping analysts added that Egypt's popular Suez Canal of the Red Sea is now considered a "higher risk area" by marine insurers. As the majority of trade from Asia to Europe passes through the Suez Canal daily, most Asian shippers will have to incur these higher insurance premiums.
A spokesperson for General Insurance Association of Singapore (GIA) said that there are two main types of marine insurance - cargo and hull insurance.
GIA added that piracy and hijacking risks would have a greater impact on hull than cargo insurance, and in general, ship owners have to bear the higher insurance costs. This is particularly so when the piracy involves the kidnapping of the captain and crew members for ransom.
However, shipping experts said that as shipping companies struggle to keep afloat and watch their bottomlines, they are unloading the bulk of these higher costs to their customers instead. Mr Hansen said: "Whether there is an increase in fuel cost or insurance cost, or charter rates, ultimately it will be priced in the freight rate and passed on the consumer. So our carriers, our customers are paying these additional premiums, for the trade on most of our ships."
As a whole, however, analysts pointed out that overall insurance costs for shipping companies are still relatively low at less than 5 per cent. Shipping analysts said that shipowners are passing the bulk of these increased costs to the shipliner companies, by charging them higher freight rates. These higher costs will eventually be absorbed by the average consumer on the street.
SOMALIA - FROM THE ABYSSINIAN PERSPECTIVE (WaltaCentre)
The TFG Cabinet’s views on extension for the TFIs
A delegation from the TFG Council of Ministers, led by Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Abdillahi Omar, is currently visiting IGAD member states to discuss the issue of an extension of the TFG’s mandate. The suggestion is that the election of the leadership of the TFIs, including the offices of President, the Speaker and his deputies should be deferred for a year. This extension should also cover the present Council of Ministers. The TFG transitional period ends officially and legally on August 20th this year. Earlier the Somali Parliament decided to extend the term of office of the Parliament for three years from August 2011 to August 2014, and to elect the President, the Speaker and his deputies before August 20th. This decision was based on the constitutional requirement that any extension of the term of the TFG Parliament had to be made before February 20th if the Parliament was to retain its mandate and authority in accordance with Transitional Federal Charter.
According to the ministerial delegation the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia aims to achieve the political and security stability necessary to complete the transitional tasks and establish the rule of law as well as the reform of the TFI's to move Somalia to post transitional permanent government. The delegation said it was the government’s intent to see Somalia unified again under an agreed national Federal Constitution approved through a public referendum.
The delegation therefore proposed the adoption of the three year extension period passed by Parliament as the basis for extending the term of all the Transitional Federal Institutions until August 2012. It suggested the election for the posts of the Speaker, his deputies and the President of the Republic should take place in July and August 2012. According to the delegation, this would give legitimacy to the TFG and its institutions. It urged all stakeholders to support its proposal as the platform to launch the urgent action needed to liberate and rebuild Somalia on a unified and consultative basis.
IGAD of course discussed the situation in Somalia at Summit level earlier, and came to the conclusion that the Parliament needed to extend its term of office, given the realities on the ground and the need to avoid a vacuum in Somalia. It accepted that the remaining political dispensations should be determined by the Somalis themselves. IGAD’s views were subsequently endorsed by the AU Summit in January this year.
AMISOM, IGAD and UNPOS adopt a Joint Strategy
At their latest monthly coordination meeting, AMISOM, IGAD and UNPOS adopted a Joint Regional Strategy (JRS) to support the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia in the management of the transition period. This follows from the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), signed by the three bodies, to encourage and enhance consultations, coordination and harmonization of all activities between themselves. Elements of the MOU require that the three organizations exchange information on all the activities relevant to the maintenance and promotion of peace, security and stability in Somalia; promote closer partnerships among themselves in these efforts as well as increasing coordination of their activities; develop and implement, where applicable, joint programs in the areas of peace, security and stability and for the establishment of effective government institutions in Somalia. Equally, they should work together to avoid any duplication of their efforts; facilitate coordination and partnership among the parties and with the International Community; and assist each other in effective implementation of areas of cooperation.
The Joint Regional Strategy outlines a common political, security and humanitarian approach as well as detailing the institutional and financial issues and challenges affecting the Somali peace process and the management of the TFG's transition. The Principals of the three bodies agree to increase the visibility of their partnership through monthly joint press releases, to improve and regularize the flow of communication and information between them as well as with the international community and other partners, improve consultations with IGAD ambassadors and with the African Group of Ambassadors and deliver joint progress reports on the implementation of the Joint Regional Strategy. In effect, the Joint Regional Strategy will be a tool for coordination, cooperation and information sharing between the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), IGAD and the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), and between them and the international community and other partners. Implementation arrangements will be through a unified work plan which will detail the key activities to be undertaken by the three organizations.
The meeting took place as fighting increased considerably in several parts of the country, in Belet Weyne, Gedo region and other areas as well as in Mogadishu where TFG forces and AMISOM have recently had a number of successes, taking over three Al-Shabaab bases in the city and inflicting substantial casualties on Al-Shabaab. AMISOM has also been able to break into and take over the main tunnel supply route used by Al-Shabaab in Mogadishu, and earlier this week, Burundi troops of AMISOM took over former Defence Ministry complex. These advances underline the need for more immediate support from the international community to assist the TFG in the provision of public services in the areas now coming under its control.
The IGAD Partners Forum visits Hargeisa
Members of the IGAD Partners Forum (IPF), led by the co-chairs Ethiopia and Italy, paid a visit to Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland this week. The visit was made in connection with the efforts of IGAD and its partners to encourage the relative peace and stability of Somaliland and to acknowledge the recent election in Somaliland and it’s peaceful transfer of power. This was the first visit by the IPF to Somaliland and members of the delegation, which was warmly received on arrival at the Egal International Airport, held extensive discussions with President Ahmed Mahmoud ‘Silanyo’ and members of the cabinet, as well as the leadership of the Guurti and Parliament.
President ‘Silanyo’ welcomed the visit of the IPF delegation to Hargeisa. It was, he said, a major departure for the international community. He emphasized that Somaliland had been waiting for the international community to recognize its efforts for a long time, and the visit was one step forward in this regard. He added that the delegation was welcome to a peaceful country where the people had built up a nation from the ashes of war. The Chairperson of the Guurti, the Somaliland Council of Elders, Mr. Suleiman Gaal, on behalf of both houses of parliament, expressed his appreciation of the visit of the IPF members. He stressed that the people of Somaliland would continue to seek the support of the international community. In response the IPF delegation, through its co-chair, underlined its appreciation of the achievements of Somaliland and the development efforts of the Somaliland people. Members of the delegation emphasized their readiness to engage with Somaliland on how best to contribute to these efforts. The Executive Secretary of IGAD, who expressed his pleasure in being in Hargeisa, detailed the background to the visit and the need to keep up the momentum to ensure continuity and sustainability of IGAD contacts with Somaliland.
The IPF members were given an extensive briefing by the Minister of Planning regarding Somaliland’s vision and the development plans for rebuilding the economy over the next two decades. The plan, prepared in collaboration with the IGAD secretariat, is expected to move Somaliland another step forward in strengthening its peace and stability and its efforts to achieve statehood. The IPF delegation also visited the port of Berbera where the port manager and other officials gave a briefing on the activities of the port, its plans and the support needed from the international community to improve services.
The visit provided a valuable opportunity for the members of the IGAD Partner’s Forum to get direct information about developments in Somaliland and consider alternative options for assisting the efforts of the IGAD Secretariat in Somaliland. The IGAD Secretariat recently took over the Sheikh Veterinary Institute which is working to develop the capacity of IGAD member states on livestock sector development.
Puntland President Dr. Abdurahman ‘Farole’ visits Addis Ababa
Puntland President, Dr. Abdurahman ‘Farole’ visited Addis Ababa this week. He met and held extensive discussions with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Ato Hailemariam Desalegn, on current developments in Puntland as well as the recent conflict between Puntland and Somaliland and the overall security situation in Somalia. President Abdirahman briefed Ethiopian leaders on developments in Puntland, its relations with the TFG, its view on the decision of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Parliament to extend its term of office by three years, and the way forward for Somalia. He thanked the Ethiopian government for its continued support in the area of security and other fields to help ensure peace and stability.
In turn, Ethiopian government officials briefed President Abdurahman on the view of IGAD that the transition in Somalia in August must be achieved without creating a vacuum. They emphasized the need to resolve Puntland’s ongoing dispute with Somaliland through peaceful means and peaceful means alone. They noted the absolute necessity for the two sides to cooperate and work together as they both faced considerable challenges from extremist elements. Ethiopia was a friend to both administrations, and it wished to see their differences resolved peacefully and both continue with their reconstruction efforts to address the challenges of under-development and poverty. It is this that would ensure peace and stability along their common borders. It therefore suggested that both administrations should sit down together, to resolve all outstanding issues through dialogue. Ethiopia offered its good offices for this purpose. Both Somaliland and Puntland have now expressed their readiness to open discussions. The leadership of both are fully aware that peace, stability and a readiness to participate in dialogue are values that have kept them on different and more peaceful trajectories than the rest of Somalia.
CHANGE BRIGADE (peninsula)
CAIRO: Hundreds of thousands poured out of mosques and staged protests in countries across the Arab world yesterday, some trying to shake off autocratic rulers and others pressuring embattled leaders to carry out sweeping reforms. Read More...
All in a day
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi told crowds of supporters in Tripoli’s central Green Square to “prepare to defend Libya” and that if necessary arsenals would be thrown open to arm his people for battle. Read More...
TWO FERRIES FROM MALTA
TO TRIPOLI TO EVACUATE AMERICANS
Two catamarans chartered by the US State Department were expected to try to evacuate American citizens from Tripoli Wednesday 23rd February 2011. Both MARIA DOLORES and SAN GWANN left Grand Harbour, Malta at 0220hrs local time last Wednesday
American aircraft have been refused permission to land in Libya and the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs is now calling on US citizens wishing to leave Libya to go to As-shahab Port as soon as possible after 9 a.m. and no later than 10 a.m. "US government chartered ferries departed for Valletta, Malta no later than 3 p.m. on Wednesday," the bureau said via Twitter. Earlier, a senior administration official told CNN that the State Department was chartering ferries to take Americans from Tripoli's As-shahab harbour to Valletta.
"The question will be if they let the ferry dock. If that happens, our people will flow out," the official said, adding that the reason that charter aircraft didn't land was because the Libyan authorities did not give them permission to do so.
Of the several thousand U.S. citizens in Libya, most are dual nationals; those solely with U.S. citizenship number about 600, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. Meanwhile, German military transport aircraft last night performed the first evacuation flights from Tripoli to Malta. Another flight was also performed by an Austrian air force Hercules, which has been in Malta for some days. Irish aircraft have arrived for the same purpose and a British Royal Air Force Hercules was expected in Malta later on Wednesday.
Libyan Ports Closed by Violence
All Libyan ports and terminals have been temporarily closed amid violence in the North African country, CMA CGM said on Wednesday. “CMA CGM ships’ calls at Libyan ports, Benghazi, Misurata, Khoms and Tripoli, are temporarily suspended,” the company said in a statement.
"Due to a general insurrection in some Libyan cities since last week, all ports and terminals are temporarily closed," CMA CGM said, adding that the company "is following with great concern the events" in Libya.
The company, which is represented by agent OSCL in Libya, created an emergency response team to monitor the situation. “CMA CGM continues to accept bookings to Libya, excluding reefer and hazardous cargo bookings that are temporarily suspended until further notice,” the company said.
[N.B.: Numerous countries have sent vessels to Libya and also aeroplanes were sent, many of which were denied landing permissions on Friday, like one flight from Kenya, sent by the Kenyan government to evacuate their nationals as well as other Africans. However on Saturday the air- and sea-evacuations continued and also the Kenyan flight was carried out.]
Thousands march in Libyan towns amid mass evacuations (AlArabiya.net, Agencies)
Libya will not demolish its oil supplies: Gaddafi's son
The government of Muammar Gaddafi will never resort to destroying Libya's oil wealth in its fight to put down an insurrection, the Libyan leader's son Saif al-Islam told Turkish news channel CNN-Turk on Friday.
"We will never demolish the sources of oil. They belong to the people," Saif said in an interview translated from English into Turkish on the CNN-Turk website.
He said the Gaddafi family had no intention of fleeing Libya, and the government was in control of the west, south and center of the country.
"We have plans A, B and C. Plan A is to live and die in Libya. Plan B is to live and die in Libya. Plan C is to live and die in Libya," Saif said.
He described the anti-government militias as terrorist groups, and said they only had a few hundred men, but had seized tanks, guns, automatic weapons and ammunition.
The interview was conducted on Thursday and was due to be aired at 1730 GMT on Friday.
Gaddafi's opponents control eastern Libya and residents of the Libyan capital said security forces had opened fire on anti-government protesters there, killing at least five, as the government struggled to stay in power.
The eastern Libyan town of Brega and its oil terminal are under rebel control, and soldiers who have defected are helping the rebels to secure the port, Reuters witnesses said.
"This area is controlled by the people," said Mabrook Maghraby, a lawyer from Benghazi who is now involved with the local committees defending Brega.
Thousands of protesters
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi speaks on national television from Tripoli
Protesters chanting for Gaddafi's ouster streamed out of mosques in downtown Tripoli after prayers, and they were confronted by a force of troops and militiamen who opened fire in streets near Green Square, said several witnesses.
Thousands of protesters marched after prayers in Tajoura, a crowded impoverished district on the eastern side of the capital. One participant said they intended to head to Green Square downtown. The district has been the scene of clashes on previous nights, and at one point residents raised the old pre-Gaddafi flag of Libya's monarchy in the streets, the symbol of the uprising against the Libyan leader.
Tripoli, home to nearly a third of Libya's 6 million people, is the center of the territory that remains under Gaddafi's control after the uprising that began Feb. 15 swept over nearly the entire eastern half of the country, breaking cities there out of his regime's hold.
Even in the pocket of northwestern Libya around Tripoli, several cities have also fallen into the hands of the rebellion. Militiamen and Gaddafi forces on Thursday were repelled in trying to take back territory in the cities of Zawiya and Misrata in fighting that killed at least 30 people.
Several tens of thousands held a rally in support of the Tripoli protesters in the main square of Libya's second-largest city, Benghazi, where the revolt began and which is now part of the opposition-held territory in the east.
Muslim cleric Sameh Jaber led the prayers in the squares, telling worshippers that Libyans "have revolted against injustice."
It appears forces loyal to Gaddafi did not want news of the violence to reach the outside world. Several witnesses said soldiers at checkpoints on the way to Tunisia grabbed their telephones, and took away their SIM cards.
Representing the Libyan people
The Libyan delegation to the Arab League in Cairo renounced links to Gaddafi on Friday and said it now represented the will of the people.
"We have joined our people in their legitimate demands for change and the establishment of a democratic system," the Libyan delegation to the Arab League said in a statement, condemning "the heinous crimes against unarmed citizens".
The Libyan delegation to the Arab League has changed its name to "the representative of Libyan people to the Arab League," Ahmed Nassouf, Deputy Director of Protocol, told Reuters.
A Libyan envoy to the United Nations in Geneva stood up and told the Human Rights Council on Friday that he and others at the embassy "represent only the Libyan people," making a dramatic public defection.
"We in the Libyan mission have categorically decided to serve as representatives of the Libyan people and their free will," the diplomat said in an unexpected announcement punctuated by a minute's silence for the "martyrs" who died in the Libyan unrest.
"We only represent the Libyan people, we will serve as their representative in this august body and in other international fora. Thank you," he added, to applause from the 47-member Human Rights Council.
He asked not to be named, out of fear of reprisals.
The EU estimates between 2,000 and 3,000 Europeans are still stranded in Libya even after several EU countries including Britain, Germany, Greece, Italy and Portugal deployed planes and ships to pull out their citizens.
Asian states also stepped up efforts to rescue thousands of people.
The Philippine government said it planned to bring out 13,000 of its citizens via chartered ferries and commercial flights.
South Korea said it had dispatched chartered jets to Tripoli and diverted a warship that had been on anti-piracy duty off Somalia towards Libyan shores.
China National Petroleum Corporation also said some of its facilities were attacked in the unrest and that it was trying to evacuate its employees.
Syria said it had evacuated 2,200 of its citizens on planes and had sent a ship to the eastern Libyan port of Benghazi to bring out 1,000 more.
A U.S.-chartered ship with 300 passengers also departed Tripoli on Friday bound for the Mediterranean island of Malta -- the closest European Union member state to Libyan shores and a key hub for evacuation efforts.
The British Royal Navy's HMS Cumberland, which is carrying 207 passengers, has set sail from Benghazi and is expected to dock at a military base in Malta at around 1:00 am (0000 GMT) on Saturday, officials said.
Meanwhile Italian Defense Minister Ignazio La Russia spoke to news channel SkyTG24 about plans to rescue a group of Italians in southeast Libya.
"We have reports that there are Italians in southeast Libya who have finished their food supplies. We will rescue them. I have already agreed the plans for the rescue operation with the generals in charge," he said.
Italy says there are around 1,500 Italians who are permanent residents in Libya hundreds of other visitors including oil workers and archaeologists.
It has already deployed two ships to the Libyan coast and sent two C130 military transport planes to bring back around 141 people on Thursday.
Italian media said around 400 Italians remain stranded in Libya.
Huge crowds at Tripoli airport
Tripoli airport is struggling to deal with all the international traffic and several planes have been diverted to Malta because of a lack of landing slots.
An official at Middle East Airlines, Lebanon's flag carrier, said Libyan authorities had refused to allow one of their planes to land on Friday.
The plane was intended to evacuate between 60 and 100 Lebanese nationals stranded at the airport in the Libyan capital.
Thousands have also streamed across Libya's land borders with Egypt to the east and with Tunisia to the west.
Tunisia's Red Cross issued an appeal for Egypt to aid thousands of Egyptians at the Tunisia-Libya border.
"The Egyptians have to send planes or ships to bring out their citizens," Mongi Slim, head of the Red Cross regional Committee, told AFP.
"It's urgent. There aren't enough mattresses or blankets," Slim said.
Slim said 4,400 Egyptians have crossed the border so far on Friday. A total of around 20,000 people have fled into Tunisia since Sunday.
The British government meanwhile faced a barrage of criticism from the press for sluggish progress in rescuing Britons from Libya as Gaddafi wages a bloody campaign to cling to power in the energy-rich state.
The Daily Mail slammed the "shameful mishandling" of the crisis and the "groveling apologies" from Prime Minister David Cameron.
Leo McKinstry, a columnist for the Daily Express, said Britain's rescue effort has been "hopelessly botched."
Iranian warships to dock in Syrian port, sources say (MonstersAndCritics)
Two Iranian warships which this week became the country's first to sail through the Suez Canal since 1979 are to dock at the Syrian port of Latakia, 600 kilometres from the canal, a Lebanese security source said Wednesday.
The Iranian ships were heading for a training mission in Syria, the source said. It would mark the first time in years that Iranian naval vessels have docked in a Syrian port. But the Israeli daily Maariv reported Wednesday that the warships were carrying missiles, arms, ammunition and night-vision goggles to the militant Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah.
Speaking about the warships' scheduled passage through the canal, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman last week told a conference in Jerusalem that it was 'a provocation which proves that the Iranians' self-confidence and chutzpah (audacity) are growing by the day.'
A high-ranking Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity to the daily Yediot Ahronot, said on Tuesday that under international law, the Iranians had the right of passage through the international waterway.
HOW LONG DO THEY ALWAYS NEED TO
After 103 Deaths, U.S. Troops Abandon Afghan Valley
U.S. pulling forces out of Pech Valley (Stars and Stripes / Staff and wire reports)
-“What we figured out is that people in the Pech really aren’t anti-U.S. or anti-anything; they just want to be left alone,” an American military official familiar with the decision told the Times. “Our presence is what’s destabilizing this area.”
The U.S. military is pulling back most of its forces from the remote Pech Valley in Afghanistan’s Kunar province, ground it once insisted was central to the war effort, the New York Times reported late Thursday.
The withdrawal formally began Feb. 15, the Times wrote. The military projects that it will take about two months, part of a shift of Western forces to more populated areas.
In April 2010, the U.S. closed its outposts in the adjoining Korengal Valley because it was too violent and didn’t seem to fit in with the overall counterinsurgency mission.
Now the Pech Valley outposts are being shuttered for much the same reason — the population in the Pech is too small to spend time trying to win hearts and minds and the insurgent resistance is too strong to justify the modest military gains.
And it is an emotional issue for American troops, who fear their service and sacrifices could be squandered. At least 103 American soldiers have died in or near the valley’s maze of steep gullies and soaring peaks, according to a count by The Times, and many times more have been wounded, often severely.
Stars and Stripes reporter James Foley embedded with the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment in the Pech Valley in late 2010 while a freelance reporter for the GlobalPost.
In September, Lt. Col. Joe Ryan talked about the frustrations and doubtful utility of fighting in Pech.
“My theory, I don’t think it’s too outlandish, is that we provide all these insurgent groups with a common enemy, that helps them,” Ryan said in a video interview from FOB Blessing. “Our presence almost helps them combine their forces, combine their efforts against us,” he said.....
Ultimately, the decision to withdraw reflected a stark — and controversial — internal assessment by the military that it would have been better served by not having entered the high valley in the first place.
“What we figured out is that people in the Pech really aren’t anti-U.S. or anti-anything; they just want to be left alone,” an American military official familiar with the decision told the Times. “Our presence is what’s destabilizing this area.”....
Afghan Defense Minister Rahim Wardak, who is in Washington for high-level meetings, expressed concern about what would happen if U.S. troops left long-established bases in the Pech Valley.
“It will be difficult for Afghans to hold these areas on their own,” Wardak told The Washington Post. “The terrain there is very tough. “I personally fought against the Soviets in that area.”
Afghans see the Pech Valley and surrounding Kunar province as key terrain because the insurgency against the Soviets in the 1980s first gained significant momentum in those areas. “We have to be very careful in how we manage this area,” Wardak said.
American forces first came to the valley in force in 2003, The Times wrote, following the trail of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of the Hezb-i-Islami group, who, like other prominent insurgent leaders, has been said at different times to hide in Kunar. They did not find him, though Hezb-i-Islami is active in the valley.
The New York Times, The Washington Post and Stars and Stripes reporter James Foley contributed to this report.
U.S.A. - CRS – Shut-down of the U.S.
Federal Government (brymar-consulting.com)
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued a report entitled “Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes, and Effects”. The report was prepared in the event that Congress is unable (or unwilling) to come to an agreement on the continued funding of the federal government. The current funding legislation (a continuing resolution) is due to expire on March 4. The report points out that certain federal officials (including Members of Congress, the President, and Presidential appointees) are exempt. Certain other federal employees are considered essential and will continue doing whatever they are doing. The remainder may have to cease work, at least temporarily. Various federal activities are excepted from any shutdown. Excepted activities include, but are not limited to, national security, foreign relations, public health and safety, transportation safety and protection of transport property, border and coastal protection and surveillance, protection of federal property, waterways, and equipment, law enforcement, and emergency assistance. RL34680 (2/18/11).
Note: >From the maritime perspective, it appears that most U.S. Coast Guard and Customs activities are excepted from the shut-down, if one is to occur. The U.S. Maritime Administration and the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission may not benefit from this exception, though.
DOJ – Guilty Plea Agreement in Price Fixing Case
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a news release stating that a US carrier has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $45 million criminal fine for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices in the coastal water freight transportation industry. (2/24/11).
U.S.A. - DOJ – Company fined $2.4 million for false ORB (brymar-consulting.com)
The U.S. Department of Justice issued a news release stating that the owner of a foreign merchant vessel has been fined $2.4 million and placed on probation for three years. As part of its probation, the company must implement an environmental compliance program with an independent third party auditor. The company had pled guilty to falsifying the vessel’s oil record book (ORB) and making false statements to the US Coast Guard. Investigation revealed that oily waste was being dumped directly into the sea and the no entries were made in the ORB reflecting this disposal. (2/23/11).
International Critics Blast 21st Century
NATO: an assault to the peace it pledged to keep (RT)
Once the Soviet Union collapsed 20 years ago, the members of the Warsaw Pact agreed to end their alliance. Originally formed at the height of the Cold War as a deterrent to NATO, it was no longer necessary.
¬But NATO carried on, and today the organization is having trouble justifying its existence.
Born of fear, the alliance “was originally supposed to defend Western Europe from the Soviet Union,” Ivan Eland, director of the Center on Peace and Liberty at the Independent Institute, said.
The fall of the Berlin Wall changed all that. Now, decades later, the military alliance formed against the Soviet threat, has been long deprived of its enemy.
Fumbling for a clear-cut mission, the North Atlantic Treaty organization has been fighting for justifiable reason to be.
That has not stopped NATO from continuing to pursue a global reach. It has been 20 years since the Warsaw Pact, formed in response to NATO, dissolved, but even without its main geopolitical rival and with the Cold War long over, NATO has aggressively expanded. Their current operations span several countries, with troops and resources in Sudan, Kosovo, the Horn of Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Mediterranean Sea.
In November, they redefined their goals going forward, at the summit in Lisbon, wanting to tackle everything from nuclear disarmament, to terrorism and cyber security.
The redefinition was adopted amidst protests on the streets.
“NATO is out of date and out of time. We need a world of peace and justice, not one preparing for yet more wars,” advocates British MP Jeremy Corbyn.
And the NATO members have already been divided over the near decade-long war in Afghanistan. NATO has not prevailed there, calling into question the alliance’s mission.
“There was every expectation that with the end of the cold war NATO would be disbanded. Instead what happened in fact and in violation of accords and agreements at that time was NATO aggressively expanded” Sara Flounders of International Action Center told RT.
Critics say US defense companies are benefiting most from this expansion, with the sales of weapons to every new NATO member and the building of every new base and that growth allows other tools to be used.
Lawyer and author Eva Golinger believes, “It has changed, altered militarily to become also this very powerful political entity that is used to pressure countries to bow down to NATO’s agenda – NATO’s agenda being primarily a US agenda.”
It is an agenda some countries see as a threat and critics of that agenda right in the US say its global expansion must be stopped.
Manager of the Stop NATO campaign Rick Rozoff shared, “I don’t believe there’s anything that justifies NATO’s existence, at least in terms of world security and peace.”
Green Economy and Environment Governance Reform Backed by World’s Environment Ministers in Run-Up to Rio+20 in 2012
New Opportunities for Fast Action on Climate Change Agreed Alongside Decisions on Improved Management of Chemicals to Oceans
26th Session of UNEP’s Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum 21-24 February
Nairobi, 24 February 2011--A major sustainable development conference in Brazil next year offers a key opportunity to accelerate and to scale-up a global transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient Green Economy, a meeting of the world’s environment ministers has signaled.
Potential challenges, including new kinds of trade barriers, need to be managed. But a Green Economy offers a way of realizing sustainable development in the 21st century by “building economies, enhancing social equity and human well-being, while reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities”.
Ministers called on the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to support countries keen to operationalize such a transition and to play a key and ‘active’ role in putting the challenges, opportunities and strategies towards a Green Economy firmly on the agenda for next year’s landmark meeting.
The UN Conference on Sustainable Development 2012, or Rio+20, also needs to address how the world can better manage and govern the environment including by evolving and strengthening the institutions responsible.
The ministers responsible for the environment, who have been meeting this week at UNEP headquarters, expressed concern that the overall efforts of the United Nations and nations in respect to the ‘environmental pillar’ of sustainable development remained weak, underfunded and fractured.
In their summary of discussions, released today at the close, many delegates said countries needed to move beyond pinpointing shortcomings and to focus on a real reform agenda in the run up to Rio+20.
“The efforts to strengthen international environment governance should be about more than rationalization of fragmentation and seeking efficiencies. Instead it should be about re-envisioning and even dreaming about what it required institutionally for environment and sustainability, and putting this in place,” says the summary, whose chair was Rosa Aguilar Rivero, Minister for Environment, Rural and Marine Affairs of Spain and newly elected President of UNEP’s Governing Council.
The summary will form a key input of ministers responsible for the environment into the year long preparations for the Rio+20 conference, which is scheduled for early June 2012.
Close to 100 ministers and over 130 countries attended this week’s UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum alongside members of civil society, the private sector and scientific bodies.
Green Economy and International Environment Governance (IEG)
The two themes—the Green Economy and International Environment Governance (IEG)—reflect the two major themes of the Rio+20 conference which are the Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and the institutional framework for sustainable development.
In support of these discussions, UNEP presented a pivotal new report on how a transition to a Green Economy might be achieved by countries.
The report suggests that with the right public policies, an investment of two per cent of global GDP into ten key sectors can grow the global economy over the coming 40 years, boost employment overall and keep humanity’s footprint within ecological boundaries.
The report underlined that a Green Economy transition is as relevant to developing countries as it is to developed countries and that the precise complexion of such a transition needs to reflect the individual circumstances of nations.
Among the final decisions made today, governments also requested UNEP in partnership with other UN agencies, to develop a ten-year ‘framework’ of programmes aimed at boosting sustainable consumption and production across societies.
The initiative, which also reflects the ideas and aims of the Green Economy, will be further key input towards the success of Rio+20.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, said: “The world is again on the Road to Rio, nearly 20 years after the Earth Summit that has defined humanity’s response to sustainable development over the intervening years.”
“In Nairobi this week, the world’s ministers responsible for the environment have underlined their leadership and their determination to make Rio+20 a success by articulating a forward-looking agenda—one that reflects the realities of a new century and the urgency of bringing together the three pillars of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental,” he said.
“This week ministers also engaged on the complex issues of IEG—how do we strengthen the maze of institutional and financial arrangements relating to the environment, globally and nationally in order to effect real, tangible and transformational change that decouples growth from degradation?” said Mr Steiner.
“As a result of this Governing Council, the direction for that reform has been given a greater focus, new momentum and taken on a greater sense of urgency which will inform the discussion, debate and finally the outcome of Rio+20 next year,” added Mr. Steiner.
Concluding the meeting and considering her new role as President of UNEP’s Governing Council, Rosa Aguilar Rivero, Minister for Environment, Rural and Marine Affairs of Spain said:
"UNEP has been strengthened thanks to the fruitful debate on the two main themes addressed at the ministerial consultations and I intend to foster the active and effective participation of all relevant stakeholders and particularly civil society, NGO's, Trade Unions and Women during my tenure."
From Widening Action on Climate Change and Improving Air Quality to a New Science Body on Biodiversity
The Governing Council also adopted some 17 key decisions across UNEP’s Programme of Work. These included:
• Assessments of short-lived climate forcers such as black carbon, methane, fluorinated gases and tropospheric or ‘low-level’ ozone.
While emissions of carbon dioxide remain the central and over-arching challenge, science is indicating that these other so-called non-CO2 pollutants are currently contributing significantly to climate change.
Fast action to phase them down could not only assist in reducing temperature rises over the next half century and reduce melting in the Arctic, but could provide multiple, Green Economy benefits across areas such as agriculture and air quality improvements.
• Governments backed a new interactive, web-based project to keep the world environmental situation under review. UNEP live, its provisional name, promises to be more dynamic; interactive and able to provide governments and the public with almost real-time data on environmental trends. A pilot phase of the system is set to be completed in 2012.
• Governments requested UNEP, in cooperation with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), to convene the first plenary of the Intergovernmental science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
IPBES, aimed at fast tracking scientific knowledge on the state of the natural world to policy-makers in order reverse the losses of forests to fisheries, was given the green light at a meeting in Busan, Republic of Korea, in 2010 and endorsed by the UN General Assembly in December.
Another decision agreed today also supports improved cooperation between developing countries—the so-called South/South cooperation—on biodiversity as part of a new more than ten-year initiative.
• Governments requested UNEP to organize a major international meeting on how to accelerate cuts in pollution and wastes to seas and oceans under its Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities.
They also requested that UNEP works more closely with bodies such as the International Maritime Organization in order to catalyze action to reduce marine pollution from shipping.
• Governments also requested UNEP to work with the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in order to prepare a report on how the UN as a whole can better respond to environmental emergencies from droughts and floods to chemical and other spills.
The Government of Switzerland today announced funding of around US$300,000 in order to support this and related work on environment-linked emergency response and preparedness.
Various decisions on chemicals and
hazardous wastes were agreed.
• Governments requested UNEP to see how the various chemicals and hazardous waste treaties—known as the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions—can work more closely together at the national level.
Nations also requested UNEP to build public awareness and strengthen the capacity and ability of developing countries, and in particular in Africa, in respect to the heavy metals lead and cadmium including the disposal of old batteries.
• Governments also approved UNEP’s core Environment Fund for the period 2012-2013 at just over US$190 million.
The UNEP Green Economy www.unep.org/greeneconomy
THE SITUATION ON SOMALIA's 6th ESTATE:
- YOU ARE PERSISTENTLY BEING LIED TO WITH
- 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
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.
MV ICEBERG I : Seized March 29, 2010.
The UAE-owned, Panama-flagged Ro-Ro vessel MV ICEBERG 1 (IMO
7429102) with her originally 24 multinational crew members
(9 Yemenis, 6 Indians, 4 from Ghana, 2 Sudanese, 2 Pakistani
and 1 Filipino) was sea-jacked just 10nm outside Aden Port,
Gulf of Aden. The 3,960 dwt vessel was mostly held off Kulub
at the North-Eastern Indian Ocean coast of Somalia. Since
negotiations had not yet achieved any solution, the vessel
was taken to the high seas again. Then the USS McFaul
intercepted and identified the ship on 19th May 2010,
despite the pirates having painted over her name and
re-named the ship SEA EXPRESS, while the vessel was
on a presumed piracy mission on the high-seas. Since about
50 pirates on the ship made any rescue operation impossible
without endangering the 24 crew, the naval ship followed the
commandeered vessel's movements for the next 36 hours, until
it began to sail back towards the coast of Somalia. Already
back then it had transpired that the shipping company Azal
Shipping based in Dubai refused to pay any ransom and the
ship is apparently not insured, though it carries quiet
valuable cargo. It seems that the British cargo owner is
influencing the not forthcoming negotiations. The sailors
soon had no more food, water or medicine from their stores
on board. Chief Officer Kumar, Chief Engineer Mohamed and
Second Engineer Francis also stated since months that they
urgently need Diesel for the electricity generators. The
crew requested in July and August again humanitarian
intervention as before but could only receive some supplies
through intervention by local elders and a humanitarian
group, because the owner-manager neglects the crew. In
September some negotiations for the release started again,
but were not concluded or continued, because the captors
consider the offer of the shipowner as unrealistic.
According to the Chinese state-media newswire XINHUA, the
acting director at the ministry of foreign affairs in Accra
(Ghana) Mr. Lawrence Sotah said the ministry, in response to
a petition by a relative of one of the hostages, had
commenced investigations, but reportedly stated also that
their location and reasons for the kidnapping remained
unknown. "We do not have any information as to what the
pirates are demanding, because the owners of the ship or the
pirates themselves have not put out any information which
will be helpful for us to know exactly what they want," he
said. "Ghana’s mission in Saudi Arabia has been contacted
to assist, " Sotah said. He said the ministry was working
with other international security organization to get to the
bottom of what he termed the "alleged" kidnapping.
The vessel is owned by a company called ICEBERG INTERNATIONAL LTD, but registered only with "care of" the ISM-manager AZAL SHIPPING & CARGO (L.L.C) - Shipping Lines Agents - Dubai UAE, whose representative Mr. Yassir Amin - said to be a Yemeni - was stating to all sides that he is handling the case.
Though EU NAVFOR spokesman Cmdr. John Harbour had stated that the vessel was carrying just "general mechanical equipment" and was heading for the United Arab Emirates when it was attacked, it carries according to the owner-manager generators, transformers and empty fuel tanks. It could now be confirmed that besides other cargo it carries generators and transformers for British power rental company Aggreko International Power Projects and the cargo seems to be better insured than the vessel.
One of the sailors from Ghana was able to speak to a journalist back home and stated on 22. September: “They have given us a 48 hour deadline that if we don’t come up with anything reasonable they will kill some of us and sink the vessel. I am appealing to the Ghanaian authority that they should do something to save our lives because our treatment here is inhuman”. The vessel was then very close to the shore of Garacad. In the beginning of October the Somali pirates allegedly threatened to kill the sailors and to sell the body organs of the 22 hostages, if their ransom demands are not met in the near future. Media reports said the information was received via a text message from one of the hostages, but investigations showed that the message, which read that the pirates will kill them and then remove their eyes and kidneys in order to be sold, is more a sort of a macabre hoax. On 27. October the third officer (name of the Yemeni man known but withheld until next of kin would speak out) died. The crew reported the case, evidence was provided and the owner confirmed that he also knows. Since there is no more light diesel to run the generators for the freezer, the owner reportedly just gave instructions to take the body off the vessel, but has made no arrangements to bring it back to Yemen.
Thereafter it was said that the group holding the ship would use it again to capture other vessels when two skiffs were taken taken on board hinting at plans that the gang intended to commandeer the ship to the high-seas again. But vessel and crew were then still held at Kulub near Garacad at the North-Eastern Indian Ocean coast of Somalia, because the vessel was out of fuel. The pirates, however, managed then to refuel from another vessel.
The families of the Indian seafarers on board have several times called upon the President and the Prime Minister of India and addressed the Indian Minister to help and solve the crisis, since the shipowner is not even responding to their requests for information. Though Dubai's Azal Shipping, fronting for the real owners, stated to a maritime website that the crew would not be malnourished, the governments of the seafarers already have statements from the captain and crew-members themselves, which state otherwise and also describe the appalling medical situation.
Again an urgent request to deliver relief-supplies in form of food, water and urgently required medicine as well as fuel for the generators has been made by the captain and crew, but was so far neglected by the ship-owner, who also has not yet facilitated the transfer of the body of the deceased to his Yemeni family. A great number of the still surviving 23 crew are suffering now from serious medical conditions of various kind , ranging from blindness, infections to mental illness, and most suffer from skin rashes, which make now humanitarian intervention and medical assistance compulsory.
It is hoped that the Indian Prime Minister, who was in the UAE, can achieve that the owners of the vessel are now really engaging in a tangible process to free the vessel and not just rely on their so-called consultants.
Latest reports state that the vessel is now only one mile off the beach off Kulub. Dangers that it might get wrecked on the beach are real, because the chief engineer alerted that there is no more fuel on board to manoeuvre the vessel away from the shore and heavy winds and waves push the vessel closer to land.
It would not be the first time that unscrupulous vessel or cargo owners even hope to cash in on the insurance money for a wrecked ship and lost cargo in such a case.
Since 02. February 2005 the classification society Bureau Veritas had withdrawn from this vessel, because a survey of the ship was already overdue back then and no survey has been carried out since. But this did not stop disputed outfits like the Canadian company Africa Oil to use the ICEBERG I as their supply vessel for their adventures with the Australian oil-juggler Range Resources and the Puntland regional administration and to take equipment back to Djibouti when their deal finally went sour recently.
The vessel is also not covered by an ITF Agreement and the crew will have serious difficulties to get their rights even once they come free.
Already the family of the deceased Yemeni seafarer and their lawyer from Aden had no success to achieve any co-operation from the vessel owner or their front-men - a situation experienced by several organizations already before.
Meanwhile the flag-state Panama and the governments of the seafarers have been addressed and are requested to step in. Panama's Shipping Registry, the largest in the world at the end of 2010, has finally exited the "grey list" compiled by signatories of the Paris Memorandum of Understanding (Paris MOU.) The Paris MOU compiles a list of shipping registries that are not in compliance with international standards. So ot is expected now that the authorities from Panama will take their guarantor position as flag-state concerning the lives of the seamen on MV ICEBERG serious now.
Latest reports say that the body of the deceased seafarer is decomposing, while vessel and crew are obviously also earmarked to rot unattended in that hell.
Reports from the destitute families say that the vessel-owner hasn't even paid any outstanding salaries and the Indian government has so far only reacted with diplomatic niceties, but no help to the situation in any way.
The vessel has now been moved from Kulub to Ceel Dhanaane south of Garacad, but the chief engineer said he has no more fuel to run the generators and that during one of the manoeuvres the propeller and shaft were damaged.
During the first week of February humanitarian mediation efforts achieved that some crew-members could talk to their families and the families reported that the vessel owner has completely abandoned the crew and his vessel, while also officials from the numerous governments, who are tasked because their nationals are hostages, reportedly also have achieved no step ahead, while the so-called owner of the vessel from AZAL SHIPPING recently stated to the pirates: "Whether you kill the crew or you sink the ship I don't care." - as documented by the crew.
Reports on a certain Somalia website, however, claiming that the chief engineer was missing from the ship and had been taken to an undisclosed location on land, turned out to be simply not true.
The families of the Indian hostages on board went therefore public mid February 2011 and decried the total irresponsibleness of the Indian government. They stated to CNN/IBN that neither the Indian Prime Minister nor the the ministers concerned nor any of the authorities tasked with the duties to care for the hostage seafarers had shown any activity to work on the release of the seafarers on MV ICEBERG I.
The Yemeni family of the deceased sailor has been informed that they have to make a decision what shall happen with the corpse, since the pirates seem no longer be willing to put diesel into its generator.
The captain of the ill-fated ship stated that the owners of the vessel had given up ownership and has now addressed the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to assist him with the transfer of ownership and the sale of vessel and cargo in order to recover the wages of the crew and to buy their freedom. He confirmed this also to the families and to CNN/IBN and sent respective written communication to the IMO.
The fathers of six Indian crew members of MV Iceberg I said now they will begin a hunger strike outside the home of India's Prime Minister in Delhi until the hostages are freed.
For the first time in nearly a year, the Seafarers Association of India, now woke up too and they said "they were looking into the matter."
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. Allegedly the vessel belongs to Tsay Jyh–Gwo of Taiwan, a company know for notorious fish-poaching also from the Pacific. The vessel was mostly held at Kulub at the North-Eastern Indian Ocean coast of Somalia and at first negotiations faced serious communication problems, while later allegedly a conclusion was achieved. But the release could still not be effected, since the brokers as well as the pirate-group holding the vessel changed. Allegedly money was sent into the wrong hands and never reached those holding the vessel and the seafarers hostage. It was reported in the meantime that the Taiwanese captain had several times been beaten severely. However, a release of vessel and crew from Kulub seemed to be near 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.
The vessel is wanted.
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 and the case appears to become another hopeless and sad story, especially because an arrangement with the Al Shabaab administration of the area where the vessel is held broke down.
THAI FISHING FLEET : Seized April 18,
2010 with a total crew of 77 sailors, of which 12 are Thai
and the others of different nationalities, the
Thailand-flagged vessels operating out of Djibouti were
fishing illegal in the Indian Ocean off Minicoy Island in
the fishing grounds of the Maldives. All three vessels were
then commandeered towards the Somali coast by a group of in
total around 15 Somalis. Already there are reports of three
dead sailors with these vessels.
FV PRANTALAY 11 with a crew of 26 (freed and towed by Indian Navy and Coastguard )
FV PRANTALAY 12 with a crew of 25 (hostage at Somali coast)
FV PRANTALAY 14 with a crew of 26 (taken out and sunk by Indian Navy and Coastguard)
None of these vessels is registered and authorized by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission to fish in the Indian Ocean.
The fleet was mostly held off the coast at Kulub near Garacad (06 59N 049 24E) at the north-eastern Indian Ocean coast of Somalia. The captors already threatened since months to use one of the hunter-vessels of the group as a piracy-launch, while negotiations have not been forthcoming. Prantalay 14 left the coast in the morning of 20. September to what is said to be another piracy expedition. Three skiffs, three ladders and other equipment were observed to be on board. The vessel has been further observed on 28. September near the shipping lanes in the area. On 30. September at 10h15 UTC a Pirate Action Group consisting of one skiffs with ladders and weapons was reported in position 07 34 N 057 39 E, which is assessed to be connected to an operation of this fishing vessel as Mother Ship - reported in position 06 47 N 060 51 E. A regional minister from Puntland got into problems when final negotiations for the release of the held vessels were supposed to take place at Garacad, but went sour. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva wants the navy to extend its anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia for another month. He will seek cabinet approval for an additional budget of about 100 million baht for this purpose, navy chief Admiral Kamthorn Phumhiran said earlier. Adm Kamthorn said Mr Abhisit wants the mission of The Royal Thai Navy Counter Piracy Task Unit of two navy ships with 351 sailors and 20 special warfare troops on board, which had left Thailand on Sept 10 and is now operating in the Gulf of Aden, extended. The mission was originally set for 98 days, ending on Dec 12., but the usual fishing season goes beyond that time, which is believed to be behind the extension demands. Now also FV PRANTALAY 11 left on another hunting mission for piracy prey, because the Thais have not at all even tried to wrench the ships from the fists of their captors. Only PRANTALAY 12 and her crew was then left as a super-hostage at the coast until on 16th November also FV PRANTALAY 12 sailed again to the oceans. All vessels were were and are abused for piracy missions since the shipowner PT Interfisheries didn't secure their release.
FV PRANTALAY 11 and FV PRANTALAY 12 returned in the meantime after having been used to capture another merchant vessels, and were first held again off Kulub (near Garacad) at the North-Eastern Somali Indian Ocean coast. FV PRANTALAY 11 was said to be still out hunting but then came to Ceel Gaan near Harardheere, while PRANTALAY 12 is moored north of Hobyo and PRANTALAY 14 was shot out of the water by the INDIAN NAVY.
The Indian Navy and Coast Guard sunk FV PRANTALAY 14 in a military action, which was termed an anti-piracy operation and was executed near the Lakshadweep group of islands in the utmost southeastern portion of the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean. The Islands belong to India.
The Somali buccaneers had been using FV Prantalay 14 and the two other pirated vessels of that fishing fleet from Thailand as piracy launches after their owner refused a deal to have the vessels released against a ransom.
Indian warship INS CANKARSO, a fast attack craft, intercepted FV PRANTAY 14 during evening hours of 21. January 2011 around 370 km off the Kochi coast.
According to a statement from the Indian navy their frigate fired the first shot as a warning shot well ahead of the bows of Prantalay in order to force the pirated fishing vessel to stop. Then the pirates opened fire with automatic weapons in a desperate bid to escape. The Indian naval vessel then opened up and in what the Indian navy reportedly called 'limited fire in self defense' they used heavy guns, probably including ship-to-ship missiles or a torpedo, which caused the Thailand ship to burst into flames and to sink. The vessel wouldn't have sunk so fast if only the excess fuel for the outboard engines of the skiffs had exploded.
The Indian navy stated that they rescued 20 fishermen and arrested 15 Somali pirates.
But the crew of FV PRANTALAY 14 comprised 26 seafarers of Thai and Myanmar nationalities..
Despite official requests the Indian authorities have so far not answered the question was happened to the missing 6 crew-members and if any of the surviving crew-members is injured.
Likewise it has not been communicated how many Somalis lost their live in the attack and how many of the 15 arrested are injured, because in a communicated picture only 12 arrested Somalis were shown.
In a similar attack against commandeered Thai fishing vessel FV EKAWAT NAVA 5 the Indian Navy had killed all crew, except for one survivor, who was found by a merchant ship six days after the attack floating in the Gulf of Aden. He survived and could tell the real story. The government of Thailand back then had officially protested to the Indian Government.
FV PRANTALAY 11 was then reported as being held at the Central Somali coast off Ceel Gaan (Harardheere district), but must have left for another piracy mission, since it was freed on 05. February 2011 by the Indian Navy near the Lakshadweep islands. 52 men, of which 28 are said to be pirates and 24 men of the original 26 member crew, were arrested in the swoop after some exchange of gunfire. No information has transpired yet concerning the 2 missing crew members.
According to informed sources, the Thai fishing vessel FV PRANTALAY 14 had 25 Somali pirates on board of which 15 were captured alive. 10 Somalis were killed during the exchange of fire and 14 Somalis were arrested, while one wounded man is treated for his injuries at a medical facility.
Allegedly the heavy 40mm and 20mm gunfire from INS CANKARSO, a fast Indian attack craft which had intercepted FV PRANTAY 14 during the evening hours of 21. January 2011 around 370 km off the Kochi coast, was sufficient to sink the vessel. Other reports, however, stated that the sinking vessel was engulfed in flames.
The fishermen stated that 22 of the original crew of 26 sailors were on this piracy trip and 20 survived the naval operation. The nationalities of the two seamen who died in the attack were not released yet.
After the operation by the Indian navy and coastguard to free FV PRANTALAY 11 - with 52 people surviving - 28 were identified as pirates and 24 crew. The vessel then was taken in tow by the Indian Navy and secured.
Further details on how many people were killed during the operation have not yet been made available, but human rights observers wondered why the arrested men were shown blindfolded and were being led into the cells with black sacks over their heads. India has announced it would probe links, which the Somali pirates might have with terrorist groups.
At least five crew members of the three Thai trawlers hijacked by pirates have been reported to have died of hunger and sickness after the owner of the trawlers refused to pay ransom during the 10-month-long hostage crisis.
Strapped of resources, the pirates provided little food during this time to the hostages. “Four crew members on FV PRANTALAY 14 fell sick and died due to lack of medical supplies and one crew member from PRANTALAY 11, the vessel rescued by the Navy and Coast Guard on Sunday, is also reported to have died of the same reason,” an Indian officer from Yellow Gate police station, where the culprits are held, stated.
Thai officials, who had regularly been alerted about the plight of the seafarers have so far not managed to achieve any peaceful solution.
FV PRANTALAY 12, more like a factory ship and not as fast as the other two other vessels, as well as maybe some other survivors of the crews from the two other vessels are still kept under pirate control in Somalia. Though pirates, like in the case of the attack by the South Korean Navy on pirated MV SAMHO JEWELRY, made announcements that they would retaliate for each of the killed or arrested Somali, such acts had not to be recorded yet.
Unfortunately it is reported that there are also no negotiations to free FV PRANTALAY 12, the last of the Thai fishing fleet, which was reportedly fishing illegally in the Indian Ocean. That vessel and the crew is still held at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast.
FV AL-DHAFIR : Seized on May 06 or 07, 2010. The Yemen coastguard of the Arabian peninsular state reported the case to have occurred off the coast of Yemen. Yemen's Defence Ministry confirmed that the 7 Yemeni nationals on board were abducted to Somalia. Yemen's coastguard said Somali pirates captured the fishing vessel, while it was docked at a Yemeni island in the Red Sea and had taken it to Somalia. The coastguard was continuing its efforts to retrieve the boat, the Defence Ministry said, but meanwhile the dhow was said to be held at the Somali shore close to Kulub.
MSV SHUVAL : Seized May 08, 2010. Latest information retrieved about the fate of this Yemen-flagged vessel confirmed a sighting at Garacad, where the vessel was at anchorage on 9. June 2010. Yemeni authorities could not tell the number of crew and are further investigating.
SUEZ : Seized August 02, 2010. In the early hours at
0420 UTC of AUG 02, 2010, the MV SUEZ (IMO number 8218720)
reported being under small arms fire from a pirate attack by
one of 3 skiffs in position 13 02N - 048 54E in the Gulf of
Aden and minutes later the Indian captain reported pirates
on board. The vessel had come from Karachi port (Pakistan)
from where it had left on 27. July 2010.
After notification of the attack, attempts were made by the navies, who are supposed to protect the area, to make contact with the MV SUEZ, but to no avail. Egyptian-owned MV SUEZ was sailing under flag of convenience of Panama in the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) when it was attacked. After the first report a helicopter was Immediately directed to the ship, but pirates had already taken over the command of the vessel, EU NAVFOR reported.
Two NATO warships, HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën and USS Cole, from the NATO counter piracy task force undertaking Operation OCEAN SHIELD, and a Singaporean warship the RSS Endurance from the CMF taskforce were within forty miles of MV Suez at the time of the attack. Despite reacting immediately and having a helicopter on the scene within 10 minutes, naval forces were unable to prevent the attack as the pirates had been able to board the ship within 5 minutes, NATO reported.
The case actually shows that though the ship was reportedly employing Best Management Practices, having barbed wire in place and fire hoses ready, the waters off Yemen and opposite Puntland are the most dangerous in the whole area. Somali sea-shifta are able to outwit and overcome any preventive measures - including arms on board, which only would drive the casualty figures higher. The incident actually highlights once again that it is high time to follow the advice to engage and help local Somali communities along the two coasts to make their coastlines safer themselves and to empower them to rule out the holding of any hostage from these innocent merchant vessels.
The Panama flagged MV SUEZ, with a deadweight of 17, 300 tonnes, has a crew of 24, according to NATO, while EU NAVFOR said 23 and the last crew-list: showed 21 with 9 Egyptians, 7 Pakistani, 3 Indians and 2 Sri Lankans. It, however, could be confirmed in the meantime that the 23 men crew consists of 11 Egyptians, 6 Indians, 4 Pakistani and 2 Sri Lankans. Crew and shipowner do not have an ITF Approved CBA agreement and - due to an overdue survey - the ship's classification status had been withdrawn by Germanischer Lloyd since 28. 06. 2010. The detailed, actual crew list is awaited. RED SEA NAVIGATION CO. serves as ship manager for owner MATSO SHIPPING CO. INC. - both from Port Tawfiq in Egypt. Red Sea Navigation's commercial director Mohamed Abdel Meguid said his company already paid a US$1.5 million ransom "last year" (actually it was in 2008) for another hostage ship, the MV MANSOURAH 1 (aka Al Mansourah), which was sea-jacked on 03. September 2008 and released against the ransom after only 23 days. As DPA reported from Cairo a day after the abduction of MV SUEZ, an official with Red Sea Navigation Company, who declined to be identified publicly, said that the company would not pay a ransom and that the matter was being handled by the Foreign Ministry in Cairo.
MV SUEZ, the merchant vessel with a cargo of cement bags destined for Eritrea, was then commandeered towards the north-eastern Indian Ocean coast of Somalia and was expected at the pirate lair of Garacad in Puntland, but there pirate groups were fighting among each other and had come recently under pressure from Puntland forces. The vessel therefore dropped at first anchor near Bargaal and then was commandeered back again to the Gulf of Aden coast of Puntland, where it was held close to Bolimoog, between Alula and Habo at the very northern tip of the Horn of Africa. Thereafter the ship was moved again to the Indian Ocean coast near Dinowda Qorioweyn.
"The pirates are treating us toughly, and they took some of the crew to unknown place to exert pressure on owners of the ship," Farida Farouqe quoted her husband as telling her over the phone, as Xinhua news agency reported. The alleged demands vary between one, four and six million dollars, while officially the ship owner has been reported as saying already earlier that no ransom will be paid, while the cargo-owners seem to have been negotiating. Vessel and desperate crew were held off Dinowda Quorioweyn at the North-Eastern Indian Ocean coast of Puntland and until 12. December off Ceel Danaane.
Reports then stated that the vessel, accompanied by a sea-jacked Iranian fishing vessel, was set to go on another piracy mission, because the captors and the owners couldn't agree on a ransom, and actually did leave that coast, but was observed anchored since 1. January 2011 at Garacad in position 0653N - 04922E.
The situation on board is meanwhile desperate, because neither the Egyptian government nor the owner seem to care, while the vessel and crew are still held off Ceel Dhanaane.
The pirate gang has been urged to release the innocent vessel and crew in solidarity with the people of Egypt.
YEMENI FISHING VESSEL : Seized August 26, 2010. The earlier reports provided by maritime observers speaking of the capture of a fishing vessel were confirmed now to the extend that the type and flag of the vessel have been identified. The Yemeni fishing vessel with at least 10 sailors on board was seized in the territorial waters of Somalia. The name of the vessel and Yemeni registration is not yet known. The Yemeni boat was sailing near the north coast of Somalia when the captors attacked it with small skiffs. They later headed toward the Somali coast. Present location unknown. At the beginning of November 2010 in total at least five Yemeni fishing vessels were held by the Somali sea-gangs, though the Yemen authorities could not provide a detailed account.
MT OLIB G : Seized September 08,
2010. Reports from our local observers were confirmed by EU
NAVFOR: Early on the morning of 8 September, the
Greek-owned, Malta-flagged Merchant Vessel (M/V) MT OLIB G
(IMO 8026608) - a Greek-owned chemical tanker - was pirated
in the east part of the protected Gulf of Aden corridor.
After having received a report from a merchant vessel that a
skiff was approaching MV OLIB G, and after several
unsuccessful attempts to make contact with the vessel, the
USS PRINCETON warship of Task Force 151 launched its
helicopter. The helicopter was able to identify two pirates
on board MT OLIB G, the EU report stated. The MT OLIB G was
sailing West in the Internationally Recommended Transit
Corridor en route from Alexandria to India through the Gulf
of Aden - allegedly carrying only ballast. The
Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) is an
area in which EU NAVFOR (Task Force 465), NATO (Task Force
508) and Combined Maritime Force (Task Force 151) coordinate
the patrol of maritime transits. It is, however, not known
yet if the vessel was involved in dumping or why it was just
sailing with ballast. The MT OLIB G, deadweight 6,375 tons,
has a crew of 18, among which are 15 Georgian and 3 Turkish.
Crew and vessel are not covered by ITF Agreement. The vessel
has as registered owners FRIO MARITIME SA and as manager
FRIO VENTURES SA, both of Athens in Greece. The attack group
is said to consist of people from the Majerteen (Puntland)
and Warsangeli (Sanaag) clans, who had set out from Elayo.
After the well timed attack - more or less synchronized with
attacks on two other vessels - and the subsequent
overpowering of the crew the vessel was then commandeered
towards the Indian Ocean coast of Somalia, where it was
first held near Eyl and then off Kulub. According to media
reports the owner of the vessel initially offered a ransom
of $75,000, but later raised it to $150,000. However, the
sea pirates want no less than $15 million, a Press TV
correspondent reported. Both sides seem to be not realistic.
Vessel and crew are at present held south of Eyl and north
of Garacad at the North-Eastern Indian Ocean coast of
Somalia and different reports about conflicts have been
However, information has transpired that the Georgian government made now arrangements with the vessel owner to free the shipp and crew by end of February 2010.
MSV NASTA AL YEMEN : Reportedly seized on Sept. 14, 2010. Number of crew yet unknown, but presumed 9. Further report awaited from Yemen.
MT ASPHALT VENTURE : Seized September 28, 2010. The Panama-flagged asphalt tanker MT ASPHALT VENTURE (IMO 8875798) was captured on her way from Mombasa - where the vessel left at noon on 27. September, southbound to Durban, at 20h06 UTC = 23h06 local time in position 07 09 S 40 59 E. The vessel was sailing in ballast and a second alarm was received at 00h58 UTC = 03h58 LT. The ship with its 15 all Indian crew was then observed to have turned around and is at present commandeered northwards to Somalia. EU NAVFOR confirmed the case only in the late afternoon of 29. September. Information from the ground says a pirate group from Brawa had captured the vessel and at first it was reported that the vessel was heading towards Harardheere at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast, while the tanker had first contact at the Somali coast near Hobyo and was then commandeered further north. The vessel is managed by ISM manager OMCI SHIPMANAGEMENT PVT LTD from Mumbai and owned by BITUMEN INVEST AS from Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, who uses INTER GLOBAL SHIPPING LTD from Sharjah, United Arab Emirates as ship-handler. The Government of India and other authorities are informed. Concerning the condition of the crew so far no casualties or injuries are reported, but the vessel seems to have had an engine problem. Negotiations had commenced but have so far not been leasing anywhere. Vessel and crew were held off Kulub at the North-Eastern Indian Ocean coast of Somalia, but now have been transfered and the vessel is moored off Ceel Gaan in the Harardheere area.
IZUMI (aka MV 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 after the incident 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 thereafter MV IZUMI with her hostages as human shield is 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 December 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.
AL FAHAD : Seized October 11, 2010. Many more Iranian
fishing vessel were over time actually held by Somali gangs
than listed, since their cases and the fate of their sailors
are in most cases not officially reported - neither by Iran
nor the Western navies.
Sources with detailed knowledge from Iran stated after the release of one Iranian fishing vessel without ransom but actually a reward paid to their captain for good assistance during piracy operations of other vessels at the end of October 2010, that at least one other Iranian fishing vessels is held at present near Garacad. How many were seized for illegal fishing in Somali waters or how many were sea-jacked just to use them as piracy launch or to press ransom could so far not clearly be established.
One Indian Navy vessel not involved in anti-piracy operations received a distress call from a merchant vessel pointing out it had spotted pirate skiffs with the Al-Fahad. The naval vessel on research mission intercepted on 10. December 2010.
"Six skiffs, with outboard motors, an AK-47 with ammunition, gas cylinders and fuel was found on board the dhow after it was intercepted... the pirate boat was then disabled," said an officer. Indian naval sources maintained that the Dhow had not been sunk.
According to those Indian naval sources there were 31 people on board. Unfortunately the Indian navy ship must not have realized that this was a sea-jacked vessel and let the Somalis and allegedly Yemeni men on board sail away after they destroyed the so called pirate-paraphernalia.
It also becomes obvious that crews collaborate with pirates to use their ships as transporters, pirate launches or even as attack vessels.
Allegedly the vessel flies now a flag from Yemen and Indian naval sources maintain the vessel was not sunk.
Though some naval sources in the region doubt the Indian report, the vessel therefore has to be kept on the list of sea-jacked ships.
MSV ZOULFICAR : Seized 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. Number of crew is not known and further details awaited.
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
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 BERNHARD 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.
On 25. January MT YORK was again used to secure a sea-jacked vessel and was not hindered by the navies to assist in the abduction of MV BELUGA NOMINATION.
It is at present held off the Harardheere district coast and a release deal broke down, due to a disagreement between the pirates and the local Al Shabaab administration.
MSV AL-NASSR : Seized October 28, 2010 off Socotra.The motorized Dhow was captured on October 28, 2010 at 11h56 UTC (14h56 local time) in position 12:08N – 054:25E off Socotra Island, Somalia, according to the IMB Piracy reporting centre. Once a British protectorate, along with the remainder of the Mahra State of Qishn and Socotra and being a strategic important point, the four islands making the Archipelago of Socotra were accorded by the UN in 1967 to Yemen, though they are very close to the mainland of the very tip of north-eastern Somalia. Several of the female lineages of the inhabitants on the island, notably those in mtDNA haplogroup N, are reportedly found nowhere else on earth. The Dhow with presently unknown flag and about 10 crew is heading now towards the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor of the Gulf of Aden (IRTC) and is likely to be used as pirate-base and/or decoy to capture a larger vessel. Further reports are awaited.
MT POLAR : Seized Oct. 30,
2010. Armed pirates in two skiffs boarded and sea-jacked the
Liberian-owned product tanker MT POLAR (IMO 9299563) with 24
crew members aboard in the very early morning hours at
01h40 UTC (04h30 local time on 30. October 2010 in position
12:12N – 064:53E. The incident occurred according to the
Piracy Reporting Centre 633nm east of Socotra island, off
Somalia; or 684 miles (1,100 kilometres) east of the Indian
Ocean island of Socotra according to EU NAVFOR. According to
a EU NAVFOR statement the owners of the Panamanian-flagged
72,825 dwt vessel MV POLAR, Herculito Maritime Ltd,
confirmed early Saturday that pirates are in command of the
ship, which was en route from St. Petersburg and Kronstadt
to Singapore with a cargo of fuel oil.
While it is undisputed that the ship originally had 24 crew members, EU NAVFOR reported one Romanian, three Greek nationals, four nationals from Montenegro and 16 Filipinos, but according to the ICSW (International Committee on Seafarer's Welfare) there are three Greek nationals, 16 Pinoy seafarers, three from Montenegro and one Romanian as well as one Serb. In connection with this case AFP concluded that though naval powers have deployed dozens of warships to patrol the region's waters they have failed to stem piracy, one of the few thriving businesses for coastal communities in a country devastated by war and poverty. According to reports from Somalia the already sea-jacked Iranian fishing vessel from Hobyo was used to capture this vessel in tandem with covering VLCC SHAMHO DREAM. Allegedly the captain of the Iranian fishing vessel thereafter received money from the pirates and was released with his vessel and crew.
Paradise Navigation S.A. is a Panamanian registered company, established in Greece under law 89
Constantinos Tsakiris is the Chairmman and Managing Director of Paradise Navigation SA, a shipping management company established in Greece and founded back in 1968, as Navipower Compania Naviera SA, by the Tsakiris family, a traditional Greek ship-owning and operating family.
Constantinos Tsakiris is the Chairmman and Managing Director of Paradise Navigation SA, a shipping management company established in Greece and founded back in 1968, as Navipower Compania Naviera SA, by the Tsakiris family, a traditional Greek ship-owning and operating family.
MT POLAR had reached the Somali coast in the morning of 30. October and was held off Hobyo. On Monday, 22. November 2010 one Filipino seafarer was reported by the Seafarers Network from Greece to have died allegedly of a heart attack.
At 02h33UTC on 23 November 2010, MV POLAR was reported in position 07°49N 055°53E - apparently on a piracy mission.
At 19h40 UTC on 25. November 2010, MV POLAR was observed in position 09 29N 068 44E, course 258, speed 12.6 kts. The pirated vessel was conducting piracy operations, using the surviving crew members as human shield, but is now back and held off Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast.
: 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
Both present hostages, Bruno Pelizzari and his girlfriend "Debbie", Deborah Calitz, were on board when the yacht under the command of Peter Endrigde allegedly heading south to Richards Bay from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania on October 21 or 22. Together with the skipper and owner of the yacht, the trio were said at first to have then encountered the pirates on 31. October 2010 in the open sea.
At least one of the attacking pirates appeared to have been from Tanzania and spoke KiSwahili. However, the sloop rigged sailing yacht set up for long distance cruising was then commandeered to Somalia by five Somalis - apparently with the aim to reach Harardheere at the Central Somali coast.
When observers had on 04. November a sighting of a yacht near the Bajuni Island of Koyaama at the Southern coast of Somalia, the search for a missing yacht was on in order to identify the boat and the sailors, but neither the Seychelles nor the network of yachts-people reported any missing yacht, though at that point already even the involvement of a second yacht was not ruled out.
Navies were then trailing the yacht at least since 04. November.
The fleeing yacht was on 06. November forced by the pursuing navies to come close to Baraawa (Brawa). There the yacht had "officially" again been located by the EU NAVFOR warship FS FLOREAL when it was "discovered to be sailing suspiciously close to shore", so the statement. Despite numerous unsuccessful attempts to contact the yacht, including a flypast by the warship’s helicopter, allegedly no answer was received and the French warship launched her boarding team to investigate further, a EU NAVFOR statement revealed and it was also officially stated that they had received a Mayday signal. Why only then the emergency call was sent and not much earlier, has so far not been explained.
After a direct chase by naval forces escalating the situation and the yacht running aground, SY CHOIZIL's skipper Peter reportedly jumped over board during a close naval swoop, when also shots were fired and a naval helicopter and a commando team in a speedboat were engaged. Other reports state the owner of the yacht, Peter Eldridge, managed to escape when he refused to leave the boat he built with his own hands 20 years ago. Officials now put it as "the yacht’s skipper refused to cooperate" - usually a call for immediate and even deadly response in any hostage situation the world over where armed assailants are involved.
However, Peter Eldridge was later picked up by the French navy and was placed into safety on a Dutch naval vessel. He is confirmed to be a South-African by nationality and his next of kin were informed immediately. After he then arrived at the Kenyan harbour of Mombasa on board the Dutch warship, he was handed over to South African officials and brought to Kenya's capital Nairobi, from where he returned to South-Africa.
Peter Eldridge, who was a member of the Zululand Yacht Club which uses the Richards Bay Harbour as its base, stated later: "The yacht was attacked by pirates - all men aged between 15 and 50 - on October 26," and thereafter: “They demanded money. They took the money that Deborah and Pelizzari were carrying for their families. They demanded more and we told them that we did not have more because we were ordinary people.”
Andrew Mwangura, co-ordinator of the East African Seafarers Assistance Programme, said earlier he assumed the yacht had been towed to Mombasa as could have been expected with all the naval presence, but at the same time ECOTERRA Intl. received information from their marine monitors in Somalia saying the yacht was left behind by the naval forces and was at that time drifting. Peter Eldridge's wife, Bernadette, told later the South African Times that she did not know whether her husband Peter would return to Somalia to retrieve what's left of his yacht, SY Choizil, which was run aground during the incident. It is, however, unclear how official statements and the owner himself can speak of "having resisted to the pirates" and insisting that he "was not leaving his yacht alone", when at the same time he must have left it to be rescued by the navy.
"We only can hope that the different reports speaking of the killing of one man, whereby at present nobody can say if that had been caused by the naval interaction or by the pirates or if it is mixed with another case, will turn out to be not correct at all," a spokesman from ECOTERRA Intl. said on 07. November and added: "and we hope and urge the local elders to ensure that the innocent woman and man will be set free immediately. Since the Al-Shabaab administration, who governs vast areas in Southern Somalia, where the ancient coastal town of Baraawe (Brawa) is located, had earlier openly condemned any act of piracy, it is hoped that a safe and unconditional release of the hostages can be achieved."
The naval command of the European Operation Atalanta stated on 09. November that the whereabouts of the other two crew members was "currently unknown, despite a comprehensive search by an EU NAVFOR helicopter."
Karl Otto of the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Cape Town stated that the Department of International Relations and Co-operation was handling the hostage situation.
International Relations and Co-operation spokesperson Saul Kgomotso Molobi confirmed this on 10. November and said the pirates had not yet made any ransom demand.
While the families of the Durban couple are sick with worry while they wait to hear from the kidnappers, the skipper's wife said: "We have been restricted from giving out more information. I have been told not to say more," but did not want to reveal who had told her to keep quiet.
South African High Commissioner Ndumiso Ntshinga said he is in constant contact with authorities in Somalia who are involved in the search for Bruno Pelizzari and his girlfriend.
Ntshinga indicated that maybe the story that the were taken off Kenya - as the Seychelles had claimed - is not correct, by saying: “We have always believed that their reach was mostly around Somalia but if they are going to be going down to the Gulf of Mozambique then it is worrying,” said Ntshinga. Naval sources not with EU NAVFOR had earlier stated the attack was at the boundary between Tanzania and Kenya while other naval sources had spoke of the boundary between Tanzania and Mozambique.
After two weeks into the crisis the South African government still stated only: "At this point in time we do not know where they are. We have instructed our consulate to handle the matter," foreign ministry spokesman Malusi Mogale told AFP.
Director of Consular Services at the International Relations Department, Albie Laubscher, said all they can do is wait.
“The situation is that we are expecting the pirates to make contact in some way or another.”
Information from Somalia says that the couple was held then for a few days held firth south and then inside Brawa but thereafter was moved to an undisclosed location.
For the Government of South Africa Mr. Albie Laubscher, the director of consular services at the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, said the families of the Durban couple had been briefed that the hostage drama could be a long, drawn-out affair. He said it was government policy not to pay ransom.
The escaped skipper Peter Eldridge maintains that they had been sea-jacked off the Kenyan coast, but failed to explained why they were there instead on their planned route to the South from Dar es Salaam.
A friend of Pelizzari, Jason Merle, said the former elevator technician had decided about four years ago to sell his house and build a yacht. 'He and Debbie invested their lives in that boat, which is now docked in Dar es Salaam, waiting for them to come back to Tanzania,' Merle said. 'They don't have any money. Neither does the family. Ransom is going to be pointless. They're not going to get anything out of that couple. The only thing they have is that yacht and a laptop.'
The abducted yacht SY CHOIZIL is still held at the Somali coast, while the couple is now said to be held somewhere in the area of Somalia's embattled capital Mogadishu.
In an effort to send the message to pirates that Deborah is African born and should not be treated like a European or an American, Deborah's brother Dale van der Merwe has denied media reports his sister was of British or Italian descent.
'She does not have any British ties and has never set foot in Britain. We are worried that should her captors read this... it may skew their perception of who Debbie really is and try attach values to her as it was done in the case of the recently released British Chandler couple.'
He said the couple were 'ordinary workers'. They had been sailing for almost two years, stopping at ports on Africa's coast to 'visit and do occasional work'. See: http://yachtpals.com/node/12445
'Anyone who knows or meets them (including their captors) will see that they are gentle and kind people who are not interested in politics but only love sailing, ' he said and added 'Debbie and Bruno will help anyone regardless of their politics, religion, nationality or race, and frequently at their own cost. They are just fellow Africans who work hard and have a passion for sailing."
The family asked the couple's captors to keep them unharmed and release them back to their families and children, whom they have not seen for so long.
The Dutch Navy detained two groups of Somalis during the last week of November, believing those arrested could be involved in the abduction of Bruno Pelizzari and his girlfriend Deborah Calitz. The people on board of two different skiffs threw their guns overboard when they realised they were about to be attacked by a naval force. But only skipper Peter Eldridge would be able to confirm whether any of the suspects were involved in the attack. Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme said fishermen and coastal traders also carried weapons in these dangerous waters and the Dutch Navy could have the wrong men and add to the complications. The Kenyan and the South-African government had refused to accept the men for prosecution, since there was no evidence, and the Dutch Navy was for days in limbo - not knowing what to do with them. Then on 05 November five of these Somalis were flown on a military plane to Eindhoven, in the south of the Netherlands to stand trial in Rotterdam for abducting the two South Africans from their yacht. The five were among some 20 suspected pirates rounded up last month in two separate operations. The other 15 were released due to a lack of evidence at an undisclosed location and their case is seen by human rights lawyers as illegal arrest and possible refoulement.
After now more than one month the South African government maintains that no ransom demands have been made, but has not stated if there was no contact or if other demands were brought forward.
According to South African officials there was still no sign of the South African couple captured by pirates off the coast of Somalia at the end of November and Carte Blanche spoke to their Durban-based families, who are concerned that there’ve been no ransom demands.
International Relations spokesman Clayson Monyela said on 10. December that the kidnappers have yet to make contact with the South African government or the relatives of Bruno Pelizzari and his partner, Deborah Calitz.
It seems that the first contact possibilities were lost by the South-African officials.
The daughter of Mrs. Calitz also appealed to the captors to at least come forward and start talks on a release.
But after two months, on Thursday, 25. December 2010, Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Clayson Monyela still could only say: “There is nothing new on the South African couple who were hijacked by Somali pirates.” Mrs. Calitz' brother Dale van der Merwe said: "The situation stays unchanged, we are still waiting for information.
Skipper Peter Eldridge was in January 2011 interviewed by police and court officials in the Netherlands on the case and reportedly testified that the attack had happened off Tanzania and not off Kenya, as he allegedly had stated to South African officials earlier, who issued this as statement. As South African media reported, Eldridge stated that he also looked at photographs of the accused men and identified some of them as the pirates who had hijacked the Choizil. Why he was not taken through a proper process of identification and raises questions for the defence lawyers.
As of mid January 2011 communication lines seem to have been established with those who hold the couple now and the yacht is used off Barawa to shuttle from and to the illegal dhows, who load charcoal at the coastal town for illegal export. While the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia has no say in that area also the Islamist Al Shabaab administration seems to do nothing against this illegal trade, which also has been termed haram already by several Muslim scholars.
An article by a South-African media house exaggerating the ransom demands while quoting unnamed sources of so-called family friends, was not only rubbished in South-Africa but also from circles close those, who hold the couple in the moment. Andrew Mwangura, officer of the Seafarer's Assistance Program, and frequent reporter on pirate issues, had earlier said that the pirates could be persuaded to take a smaller sum. It seems that unscrupulous brokers and media have no restraint in trying to hype up the story.
However, the brother of Mrs. Calitz said on 31. January 2011 that any ransom demand for his sister was "pointless" unless he could speak to her. Dale van der Merwe said he had asked telephone callers demanding a USD10 million (R70m) ransom for the release of his sister Deborah Calitz for proof that she was alive. "I said to them: 'If you really are who you say who you are, then let me speak to her.' They said no." And van der Merwe appealed again: "We are asking you to please let them go... They are just ordinary Africans like yourselves with similar problems, we are not rich."
International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Director General, Clayson Monyela, said the department was doing its part to ensure the safe return of the two, while also the calls of the three daughters of Deborah Calitz to free their mother have so far not been responded to by the kidnappers.
While the official line of the South African Government to not negotiate or pay ransoms remains unchanged, in mid February 2011 a second brother of Mrs. Calitz - Kevin van der Merwe who lives in Auckland, New Zealand - broke the silence and called for a public funds-drive to enable the family to make an offer for a release to the Somali hostage takers, who hold them now. He said time was running out and they had to do something, adding: ''I am very worried about them mentally and physically.''
A trust account was being set up and he said even the smallest donation would help.
ZOULFECAR (aka MV ALI ZOULFECAR, MV ZOUFLEKAR):
Seized November 03, 2010. The Comorian-flagged vessel a was
pirated en route and in transit from the Comoros to Dar es
Salaam (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 from 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. Kenyan sources had spoken also of
a Kenyan woman on board, but it is now believed she is among
the Tanzanians listed.
Though not yet officially confirmed, latest reports speak of at least one casualty on board. The Somali pirates allegedly have seriously injured one of the crew members on board, according to a regional maritime official. Andrew Mwangura, the East Africa Coordinator of the Seafarers Assistance Program (SAP) said there were still scanty details about the casualty. "The attacked crew seemed to have argued with the pirates and they said they will teach him a lesson, that was when he was shot at. It is believed that the victim engaged pirates and they shot at him, wounding him seriously,” Mwangura told journalists in Mombasa. Mwangura said it had not been confirmed who exactly the casualty was, but sources indicated that it could be the vessel’s engineer or captain.
The vessel was slowly commandeered North along the Somali Indian Ocean coast, was used as piracy launch in attacks on other vessels. It was for a time held off Hobyo, but since negotiations to secure a release had not been coming forward it was taken on annother spree of piracy.
On February 9, 2011 at 09h45 UTC the vessel was observed in Latitude: 11°22S and Longitude: 051°45E. The vessel is carrying besides the crew a larger number of innocent passengers as human shield and is used as piracy launch.
Mid February 2011 the owner of the motor vessel claimed he paid ransom and believes the vessel should be set free by now. Last sighting was around 08. February, when the vessel was heading NNW just north of Madagascar. It was first assumed that they would have to be picked up for the release.
Apparently the vessel was then stuck on 20. February 2011 without fuel, without communication and taking on water, just off the northern tip of the coast of Madagascar. The captain, who has nationality from the Comores, and three crew members (one form Tanzania, one from Madagascar and another one from the Comores) arrived in Antsiranana port last Monday having left 30 sould behind on the drifting vessel without communication and fuel.
After an unsuccessful searches on Tuesday and Wednesday and an aerial survey by four spotter planes on Thursday were not successful, a maritime patrol plane sighted the ship on Friday around 75 kilometres (40nm) east of Antsiranana in the open sea. If all crew and passengers survived is not known yet.
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) 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
"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 originally 31 men strong crew of the 24,105 tonne double-hull tanker consisted 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 BLIDA 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.
Thereafter the vessel and remaining crew of 22 Tunisians, four Filipinos, a Croat, a Georgian, a Russian and a Moroccan. returned to the Somali Indian Ocean coast and is held there at present.
While the government of Tunisia has been renewed by Tunisia's youth, which finally stood up against the shortcomings of their state, the vessel owners appear to be so far unconcerned to solve the case quickly.
If the so far successful public uprising in Tunisia will help with a quick resolve of this case remains to be seen. Though the former president and some cronies have fled the country, Tunisian authorities so far leave everything to the shipowner. However, the vessel owner was finally forced to face representatives of the governments and their families concerned and became active again to seek a release. ECOTERRA Intl. urged the Somali clan of the pirate group holding the vessel to let crew and ship go in solidarity with the people of Tunisia and on 19. February 2011, there was hope expressed that the case could be concluded within one or two weeks.
Vessel and crew were transferred along the cost and are held now off Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast.
Information transpired during the last days, that despite the general uproar along the coast about the fatal incident involving the death of four Americans and four Somalis on a pirated yacht, the release of MV HANNIBAL II could go ahead as planned in the coming days.
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 held off Dhanane, south of Garacad at the North-Eastern coast. Meanwhile it was transferred and is now held off Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast of Somalia.
COMORAN FV : Seized on November 18, 2010. The Comoros-flagged fishing vessel with a two man crew was confirmed sea-jacked inside the territorial waters of the Comoros. So far the identity of the vessel has not been released and the fate of the crew is not known.
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.
KANTARI 12 : Seized before November 30, 2010. The vessel
was used to capture FV LAKMALI and FV LAKMINI 03.
Since FV KANTARI 12 at first had not arrived at the Somali coast, it was feared that they would probably conduct mothership operations around the 15North-60East area, which was later confirmed.
Further reports concerning the whereabouts of this vessel are awaited.
The two Sri Lankan seafarers, which had been kidnapped earlier from FV LAKMALI, which is held by the Indian Navy in Minikoy Island, are still held in Somalia, while humanitarian efforts are made to achieve their release.
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
Apparently one of the previously sea-jacked fishing vessels was used to launch the attack.
The vessel was en route from Indonesia with 43,150 tonnes of nickel ore on board to take them to Greece via Singapore and through the Suez Canal.
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 Bangladeshi nationals. The woman is the wife of a crew-member.
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.
Some sailors of the Bangladeshi ship hijacked by Somali pirates have meanwhile fallen sick, according to the family of a crewmember. Afroza Kalam, wife of electrical engineer Sahabu Alam, 40, told bdnews24.com on 27. January that her husband had been suffering from high blood pressure. "Some other sailors are also ill," Afroza quoted Sahabu as telling her over phone. Afroza said she had talked to her husband for 10 minutes at 11am on 24. January over mobile phone, belonging to a Somali pirate. Afroza said: "My husband has urged all to save the kidnapped crew and said that they had no medical facilities in the ship."
Vessel and crew are now held off Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast.
MV MSC PANAMA : Seized
December 10, 2010. At 12h12 UTC (09h12 LT) on 10 December
2010 the U.S.-owned container vessel MSC PANAMA (IMO:
8902125) was reported to be under attack by an armed group
of in total five sea-shifta in two skiffs on board in
position 09°57S 041°46E. A Rocket Propelled Grenade was
used during the attack which occurred approximately 80
nautical miles east of the Tanzanian/Mozambique border. On
the afternoon of 10 December, the merchant vessel was then
confirmed pirated and in position Latitude: 10°00S
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.
Panama-flagged MV RENUAR is a bulk cargo vessel with a dead-weight of 70,156 tonnes and was en route to Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates from Port Louis in Mauritius when it was captured on Saturday, EU NAVFOR confirmed and stated: "The pirates have confirmed that they have control of the ship which is now heading west towards the Somali coast." The EU said it was a Liberian-owned vessel.
But Europe's best ship register states that CANDY ENT INC from Greece is the registered owner and MARYVILLE MARITIME INC from Greece the manager. Though the Greek ship register is notoriously in shambles, it is not known how EU NAVFOR did arrive at the conclusion that the vessel would be Liberian owned.
The pirates launched the attack from 2 skiffs, supported by a mother ship, with fire of small arms and rocket propelled grenades forcing the merchant vessel to stop. The bulker has a 24-man all-Filipino crew, who attempted to evade the pirates for some time, causing the pirates to make several attacks before finally boarding the vessel. One of the pirates had died during the attack - marine observers reported yesterday.
That at present more and more of the previously already captured fast fishing vessels are used to launch far-reaching attacks is widely known and analysts can not understand why these vessels are not tracked better by the navies.
The bulk carrier MV RENUAR (IMO9042221) is at present commandeered to the Somali coast, but naval centres stated that they had at that moment no communications with the ship and that the condition of the crew is not known.
The Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines said it was working to ensure the safety of 24 Filipino seafarers on board the Panama-flagged vessel MV Renuar. In a release posted on its website on Monday, the DFA’s Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) said that it has instructed Capt. Gaudencio Collado, Philippine Liaison Officer to the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) in Manama, Bahrain to assist in the rescue efforts and that the European Union Naval Forces (EU NAVFOR) will attempt a rescue before the vessel, now en route to Somalia, reaches Somali waters.
Analysts, however, see such sabre-rattling as rather unfortunate and advised that the DFA should better look into the policy, which once had stopped Filipino seafarers from signing on with ships plying such dangerous routes.
DFA Undersecretary Esteban Conejos Jr. also instructed Collado to convey to the EU NAVFOR the Philippine Government’s “paramount concern" for the safety of the Filipino crew members. The OUMWA likewise called on the Philippine Embassy in Athens to convey the same message to the vessel’s Greece-based owner. The crew had locked themselves in a compartment but were later overwhelmed and the pirates are in control of the vessel. The captain contacted a humanitarian organization and reported that the crew is all right. The ship arrived on 20. December south of Garacad at the North-Eastern Somali Indian Ocean coast and is still held around there.
MSV SALIM AMADI : Seized December 15, 2010. The motorized cargo dhow of most likely Indian origin was seized at 10h00 LT (07h00 UTC) some 70nm from Bosaso on her way from Dubai to this harbour town of the regional state of Puntland in Somalia. Most likely involved also in a business dispute. Number of crew and their fate is not yet known.
: 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 was first held off Garacad at the North-Eastern coast but is now moored off Hobyo 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 was moored off Ceel Gaan at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast of Harardheere, but thereafter took off again.
At 10h50 UTC on 14. Jan 2011, SHIUH FU No.1 acting as mothership, was reported in position 12°21N 055°56E, but it is now back and held off Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast.
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
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 coke.
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 8, comprising 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 of Winschoten 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 24 crew held hostage and a pirate
skiff in tow, but it was not possible to have contact with
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.
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 captain of the boat is Alfonso Rey Echeverri and his boatswain is Jose Alfonso Garcia Barreiro. .
The "Vega 5" is operated by a Spanish multinational and a 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, 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 fishing vessel was then taken to the coast off Harardheere at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast and the case became complicated. At first the engine of the vessel had apparently been disabled, because a Spanish warship appeared, but that was then fixed while fears of a commando attack persist.
Negotiations to secure the release began on 2. January by the same team that somehow managed to end the Alakrana case.
The discontent among fishermen over the "law of silence" imposed by Spanish officials became obvious in a letter sent to the magazine "Fishing Industries" by the skipper of the Balueiro, which operates in the Indian Ocean. Argimiro Gonzalez Blanco slammed the Spanish government for trying to "hide" what is happening in the zone "from the rest of the citizens".
Reportedly the Spanish authorities are negotiating since 2. January and a possible deal is said to be brokered by the same team that negotiated the freeing of the FV ALAKRANA, though Spain has a law that forbids any payment of a ransom. >From the Spanish Embassy in Kenya, now led by Ambassador Javier Herrera Garcia-Canturri, sources assume that the hostage negotiators speak also on the Somali side with the same, apparently trained negotiator, who speaks "perfect English".
The Maputo, Mozambique-based newspaper said it got the information about the ransom demand of $1.6 million in exchange for the 24-man crew of the Mozambican-flagged FV Vega 5 fishing vessel from unidentified family members of the crew.
The Spanish warship, which keeps a watch is not helping to cool the situation at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast, where the FV VEGA 5 was moved regularly after the engine was fixed again. Now the vessel has been transferred and is held off Hobyo. The case certainly also still holds the burden from the FV ALAKRANA with several unsettled scores.including two Somalis in Spanish prisons.
Reports from the ground revealed that the Spanish crew members had been taken off the vessel and were held hostage on land, but meanwhile were returned to the ship.
MV BLIDA : Seized January 01, 2010. At
15h36 UTC (12h36 LT) of New Year's day, the bulk carrier MV
BLIDA (IMO 7705635) was attacked by an armed Pirate Action
Group of four men in one skiff, which had been launched from
earlier pirated MV HANNIBAL II at position Latitude: 15 28N
Longitude: 055 51E. The location is approximately 150
nautical miles South East of the port of Salalah, Oman. EU
NAVFOR and NATO confirmed the sea-jacking.
The 20,586 tonne Bulk Carrier is Algerian flagged and owned. The vessel was on her way to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from Salalah in Oman at the time of the attack.
The bulker has a multinational crew of 27 seafarers (17 Algerian, 6 Ukrainian - incl. captain-, 2 Filipinos, 1 Indonesian and 1 Jordanian).
The official version is that the vessel is carrying a cargo of Clinker.
MV BLIDA was registered for protection with MSC(HOA) but had not reported to UKMTO, EU NAVFOR stated, but did not explain why the vessel was not protected - especially because the vessel used as pirate-launch - MV HANNIBAL II - was reported earlier by NATO to be in the area.
Ship manager of MV BLIDA is SEKUR HOLDINGS INC of Piraeus, Greece and registered owner is INTERNATIONAL BULK CARRIER of Algeria.
The manager could for the first time on 05. January contact the Ukrainian captain who said the 27-member crew is safe, the Ukrainian foreign ministry in Kiev said. The captain of the Blida bulk carrier told the Greek manager that "no crew member had been injured" during the attack last Saturday and that the sailors were in "satisfactory" condition.
Shipping in Algeria is a government monopoly run by the Algerian state, the National Corporation for Maritime Transport and the Algerian National Navigation Company (Société Nationale de Transports Maritimes et Compagnie Nationale Algérienne de Navigation--SNTM-CNAN).
Earlier on 05. January, shipcharterer IBC said it had received no ransom demand from the unidentified pirates who seized the vessel.
"I don't know who will pay, but I repeat that we have not received such a demand," Nasseredine Mansouri, head of International Bulk Carriers (IBC), an Algerian-Saudi company specialising in maritime cargo transport, told AFP.
Justice Minister Tayeb Belaiz said on 06. January his country would not pay a ransom. Belaiz said in a statement to the press that Algeria was the first country to have "called, before the UN general assembly, for the payment of ransom to criminals and kidnappers to become a criminal act". Paying ransom encourages criminals and finances terrorism, he said. "Algeria does not pay ransom," he said adding that the kidnapped crew had been able to contact their families by telephone.
The vessel had arrived in Somalia and was moored off Garacad at the North-Eastern Indian Ocean coast of Somalia as marine observers reported, but then left for a piracy spree and was observed on 22. January 2011 in position Latitude: 09 54N Longitude: 052 56E with course 049 degrees and speed 8.6 kts conducting mothership operations.
Now vessel and crew are held off Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast. Somali pirates were urged to let the vessel go in solidarity with the people of Algeria.
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
when the small UAE-flagged offshore supply vessel TIBA FOLK (IMO 7403017) with 1978 dwt was attacked from two pirate skiffs and came under fire at 07h5 4UTC on New Years day in position Latitude 03 56N Longitude 059 33E, which is north of the Seychelles and around 672 nautical miles east of Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast, she was towing at least one barge.The tug had reportedly a cargo of valuable generators and it is said to have been protected by an armed security detail, but it is not know if the generators were on the barge or loaded on the supply vessel.
The barge with the registration DN127 was subsequently released from the tug to increase speed and manoeuvrability.
The barge was then pulled by likewise sea-jacked gas-tanker MT YORK towards Harardheere at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast and is moored there a little bit further off the coast not far from Ceel Gaan, according several local reports. On the barge, which also has a crane, are several shipping containers.
The barge was
Until today EU NAVFOR only confirmed that the barge was sea-jacked but didn't release any detail about the attack and did neither report concerning the whereabouts of the tu, the crew or the security detail nor if in the shoot-out any of the personnel on the tug or any of the pirates had been injured or killed.
Likewise the shipowner FOLK SHIPPING LLC from Deira, Dubai, United Arab Emirates has not come clear on the fate of the tug and a possible second barge, which some sources say was abandoned and later taken by coalition naval forces.
One barge was observed by NATO at 05h11UTC on 03.January 2011 - i.e. three days after the incident - and described as ABANDONED in position Latitude: 03°21N Longitude: 057°18E.
The location around Ceel Gaan near Harardheere, which is south of Hobyo and at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast is an area now governed by fundamentalist Al-Shabab after their merger with Hezb-ul Islam. The barge, however, might not stay there but might be brought further North and towards Hobyo, local observers reported.
MSV SAADI : Seized in the beginning of January 2011. The hijacked Iranian-flagged dhow is in the moment in use as mothership in the Arabian Sea. The number of the Iranian crew is not known yet in detail.
MUSA : Seized January 09, 2011. The Indian merchant dhow
was hijacked along with her 14 Indian crew on or about the
9th of January 2011 while under way off Oman.
The dhow was abducted along with her 14 Indian crew on or about the 9th of January 2011 while under way from Dubai to Salalah around 50nm off the coast of Oman. The vessel is carrying assorted food-stuff and is at present commandeered to Somalia.
CREW OF MV LEOPARD : Seized January 12,
2010. The six men crew (2 Danes 4 Filipinos) was snatched
from 1,780-dwt weapons transporter MV Leopard.
The MV LEOPARD (IMO 8902096) is owned by a small company named “Shipcraft”, which is specialized to haul dangerous, military and nuclear cargoes, the Maritime Bulletin says.
The Leopard is known to be carrying what various informed sources have described as a "sensitive" cargo which is believed to include weapons. Although ships operated by Shipcraft, the Leopard's Danish operator, routinely carry nuclear items, this vessel is not believed to have any on board. Some analysts said it could have been possible that the ship had been disabled by its crew before they hid in the citadel and the Somalis may also have felt that the high-profile nature of the cargo could also have posed a heightened risk of naval or military intervention, but sources from Somalia believe that the real danger concerning the cargo sensed by the Somalis was the reason to abandon the vessel.
It is unknown if the pirates have touched any of the cargo while the welfare of the crew is also not known. Representatives from ShipCraft have steadfastly refused to comment on the issue when contacted by TradeWinds on several occasions on Wednesday and Thursday. The company deactivated its website on Thursday morning as reports began to filter through that the ship was carrying a potentially dangerous cargo and it remains "under construction". Since unprotected, also MV FAINA - a Ukrainian weapons-carrier with battle tanks for Southern Sudan was intercepted by Somali pirates, but in this case held for 144 days with a major diplomatic row evolving concerning the final destination of the weapons, since they had no permits for Sudan.
"We do not know where the crew is and we are concentrating on locating them and bringing them home to safety," Shipcraft chief executive Claus Bech said in a statement.
He confirmed a report late Thursday that the pirates had taken the six crew members -- two Danes including the captain, and four Filipinos -- and abandoned the 1,780-dwt cargo vessel MV Leopard (built 1989).
He did not reveal if the kidnappers had demanded a ransom. Registered shipowner is LODESTAR SHIPHOLDING LTD of Horsholm, Denmark, who has as ISM manager NORDANE SHIPPING A/S.
A search onboard the boat Thursday by Turkish soldiers, who are part of an international NATO-led force in the Gulf of Aden, turned up "neither pirates nor crew members," Bech said.
The shipping company last had contact with The Leopard crew on Wednesday at 1300 GMT, when the captain sent a distress signal indicating that the cargo ship had been "attacked by pirates who were boarding from two speed boats," the statement said.
After receiving the alert, NATO sent the Turkish warship Gaziantep to the scene, a spokesman for the alliance's anti-piracy mission, Jacqui Sheriff, told the Politiken daily's website.
Shipcraft, which has not provided information on what the cargo ship had been carrying, is known as a specialist in shipping explosives and ammunition, the paper reported, adding that The Leopard was transporting weapons.
All the company's ships have traveled in the area with armed guards since pirates attempted to capture another of its cargo ships, The Puma, in mid-2009.
However, Politiken.dk reported that The Leopard had let off its armed guards at the Oman port of Salalah before sailing into a zone considered "safe" where it was attacked.
The crew of MV LEOPARD is not covered by an ITF agreement.
According to TradeWinds and in what represents a major departure from Somali pirates' usual modus operandi, the six seafarers have been snatched and moved to a seized Taiwanese fishing vessel which is operating as a mother-ship.
British sailing couple Paul and Rachel Chandler who had their yacht Lynn Rival hijacked in October 2009 before they were moved to the seized 1,550-teu container vessel Kota Wajar. From there they were taken ashore and held hostage for over a year and only freed last November.
The only other such "off-takes", apart from the Chandlers, were the kidnapping of Juergen Kantner and his partner from their sailing yacht S/Y ROCKALL on 23. June 2008, the kidnapping of Deborah Calitz and Bruno Pelizzari from S/Y CHOIZIL on 26. October 2010 and the snatching of Sri Lankan fishermen Mr. Lal Fernando and Mr. Sugath Fernando from FV LAKMALI on November 30, 2010. However, recent information reaching our marine monitors in Somalia also say that three women (one Tanzania and two Comorian) have been transferred from the vessel on which they where kidnapped - the MV ALY ZOULFECAR.
The most likely explanation, why the pirates left the arms-ship, is that the crew managed to flee into the strong-room and disabled the engines. The time to then get to the crew left little time to get the engines working again before a warship would have arrived. The pirates therefore decided to leave the huge amount of ammunition, rockets and missiles, which the vessel was transporting as deliveries from three European countries to states in Asia, because this loot would not be of immediate benefit to the Somali warlords and most likely would have triggered a serious naval response to block the vessel and its goods from reaching the Somali coast. The mastermind then must have decided to order the gang to just kidnapp the crew and disappear on the waiting fishing vessel.
Allegedly the Somalis holding the 6 men crew have already offered a deal to exchange them.
The Danish shipping company said it was searching for the six crew members, while reports from Hobyo say that 4 Somalis including one dead had been delivered by a naval Helicopter to Hobyo. But the Leopard crew is apparently still held there.
MV EAGLE : Seized January 17, 2011. At 06h41
UTC (09h41 LT) on Monday 17. January, the bulk carrier MV
EAGLE (IMO 8126408) was attacked and pirated by a single
skiff in position Latitude: 13°17N Longitude: 061°42 E.
The attack occurred in the Gulf of Aden, 490 nautical miles
South West of Salaam, Oman. The pirates had been firing
small arms and a Rocket Propelled Grenade before boarding
the vessel. There has been no contact with the ship since
the attack. The MV EAGLE which is Cypriot flagged and Greek
owned, has a deadweight of 52,163 tonnes and a crew of 25
Filipinos (according to the shipowner and DMS of the Cyprus
government - not 24 as stated by EU NAVFOR) and was on
passage from Aqabar (Jordan) to Paradip (India) when it was
The Handymax bulker is owned by the Perogiannakis family, Perosea Shipping Co. S.A. of Greece. The company Perosea currently operates just this one rather old bulker, which was built in 1985.
The ITF agreement, which had been agreed as TCC and was covering the crew with the Pan-Hellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO), expired on 05. April 2009. The crew of the vessel is therefore not covered by an ITF agreement.
There is at present no information concerning the condition of the crew, while the vessel has reached the Somali coast, where it is held off Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast.
MV HOANG SON SUN
: Seized January 20, 2010. The vessel MV HOANG SON HUN
(IMO 8323862) was seized by pirates, who came onboard
shooting at 12h42 UTC in position Latitude: 15°11N
Longitude: 059°38, which is approximately 520 nautical
miles South East of the port of Muscat, Oman. The
22,835-tonne Bulk carrier is Mongolian flagged and
Vietnamese owned, has a crew of 24 Vietnamese nationals and
is carrying 21,000 tons of iron ore.
MV HOANG SON SUN was not registered with MSC(HOA) and had not reported to UKMTO.
Owner and manager of the Vietnamese vessel is HOANG SON CO LTD from Thanh Hoa City, Vietnam, who insured it with West of England Shipowners. Unfortunately for the seafarers it has no ITF agreement.
Nguyen Bien Cuong, head of the Hoang Son Co's maritime security department, said the last time his firm had heard from the Vietnamese crew of the cargo ship was Tuesday. However, according to the ship-owner (Hoang Son Company in Thanh Hoa province), the captured ship captain Dinh Tat Thang somehow managed to clandestinely send an email saying that all sailors are in safe condition and the merchant ship has been moved to a Somalia port.
Apart from that, Hoang Son Company has not received any other information, Vietnamese media reported.
Bui Viet Tung, son of chief mechanic Bui Thai Hung, one of hostages, is angry that the company has not made any contact with the pirates.
“If Hoang Son Company is not committed to the case, our family will go to Hai Phong northern city to seek more information on my father’s situation”.
On the same day, Hoang Son – deputy director of Hoang Son – told Tuoi Tre the company is working with a UK-based firm specialized in negotiating all things related to hostage and pirates to rescue the victims.
“The ransom is estimated to hit US$5 million,” Hoang Son added and stated that the vessel itself is insured against hijackers by the Vietnam Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development, but that the staff and goods on the ship have no insurance. “If pirates ask for a huge ransom, there’s no way the company can afford it," Son said and added: "We need the support of the state and our insurer."
Based on this analysts believe that the case will take at least three month, because the British companies are known to take their time, because they are paid for it.
Crew and vessel were first held off Hobyo but the vessel is at the moment moored off Ceel Dhanaane at the North-Eastern Somali Indian Ocean coast.
MUHIEDINNE K : Seized January 20, 2011. Pirates attacked
the the Togo-flagged, Syrian-owned bulk carrier MV KHALED
MUHIEDINNE K (IMO 8105650) at 17h08 UTC (20h08 LT) on 20
January 2011, in position Latitude: 20°39N Longitude:
063°38E, which is in the North Arabian Sea approximately
330 nautical miles South East of the Omani coastal port of
Salalah. The merchant vessel was the second ship hijacked in
"Authorities were made aware of the attack when the master (captain) reported being fired upon with small arms and seeing pirates on board," an EU NAVFOR statement said.
The 160m long, 24,022 deadweight tonne vessel, which had registered its route with the appropriate authorities like MSC(HOA) and was reporting to UKMTO while she was on her way from Singapore to Hudaydah, Yemen.
DANA MARINE LTD serves as registered owner for DAMAK MARITIME CO of Tartous, Syria.
The bulker has a crew of 22 Syrians and three Egyptians, who unfortunately are not covered by an ITF agreement, since the vessel has no ITF approved CBA.
The vessel reached the Somali coast and was held off Garacad at the North-Eastern Somali Indian Ocean cost until it recently was moved further south.
MV BELUGA NOMINATION : Seized January 22, 2011.
The German-owned heavy-lift and multi-purpose vessel MV
BELUGA NOMINATION (IMO 9356402) was attacked at 12h36 UTC
(15h36 LT) in the afternoon of 22. January 2011 en route to
Port Victoria in the Seychelles. The vessel was observed on
22. January first at position 0435N 04804E and was then
attacked in position 01 49N 056 35E by a skiff, with an
unknown number of suspected pirates on board. The emergency
signal was received at 14h38 (CET). Small arms were used
against the vessel during the attack, which took place
around 480 nm from the Somali coast and 390 nm straight
north of the archipelago of the Seychelles in the Indian
Ocean. The vessel was en route from from Palma de Mallorca
and then on 07. January the port of Valetta on Malta in
Europe via the Seychelles and India to the South Korean port
of Masan, with what had been termed "steel-cargo".
The incident was for four days not reported by EU NAVFOR, NATO, or the IMB to the public. Information is regularly withheld when a military operation is planned or in progress.
However, fact seems to be that for over two days (exactly 49h) the crew was locked in the strongroom and sent SOS signals until the pirates managed to get to them.
Information released by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 24. January were then confirmed on 25. by the shipowner and the German parliamentary secretary Hans-Joachim Otto (FDP) and they confirmed that the vessel was actually sea-jacked.
Late night on 25. January finally also EU NAVFOR stated that operation ATALANTA believed - "after 4 days of uncertainty regarding the exact status of the crew" - that the vessel was pirated. The European naval force confirmed that the MV BELUGA NOMINATION had been properly registered with MSC(HOA) and had reported to UKMTO, but remarked that the nearest EU NAVFOR warship at the time of the attack was over 1000 Nm away. Likewise NATO had remained mum until then. Critics said a naval vessel could have reached the Beluga Nomination in less than 33 hours.
"We are somewhat irritated," Beluga’s chief executive Niels Stolberg was quoted by Reuters as saying on 26. January. "Why, within two and a half days during which the crew had hidden from the pirates in the citadel, could no external help be offered?"
Reportedly the crew was even able to steer the vessel from the strongroom towards Port Victoria and observers wonder why the heavily EU- and US-financed coastguard of the Seychelles didn't respond earlier.
Sources of the Maritme Bulletin, however, reported later that the vessel actually had been sailing in a convoy, protected by a Russian frigate. Then the Beluga N apparently left the convoy and sailed independently. Captains on other vessels in this convoy were wondering, considering the heavy-lift ship with a free-board of only 2m a sitting duck, while pirates had been circling the convoy already.
After the news broke, the press-officer of Beluga Shipping, Verena Beckhusen, at first informed that the company didn't want to make a statement at that moment and in a later statement the company only confirmed that their vessel and crew had been abducted. Also efforts by the Consulate General of Ukraine in Hamburg to find information on the exact number of their nationals on board were initially not successful. The Embassy of the Ukraine in Kenya then received orders to establish contacts with the operator and to follow the development of the situation, since it has experience in freeing ships in similar situations like the weapons-ship MV FAINA.
It is not clear yet if the German 9,775 dwt general cargo vessel is transporting sensitive goods. Some Beluga vessels like the MV BELUGA ENDURANCE are said to have been earlier involved in deliveries of military hardware, e.g. to the port of Mombasa in Kenya and several other BELUGA vessels had already earlier bad experiences with piracy. MV BBC TRINIDAD was sea-jacked in 2008, triggering the German participation in EU NAVFOR's operation Atalanta. MVs BELUGA FORTUNE as well as BBC ORINOCO were boarded in other incidences by pirates, who after the attack left those vessels, while navies were zooming in and crews were in their strong-rooms.
Marine observers, however, wonder what the pirates might do with the above-deck cargo, since the vessel carries there several sailing and six motor yachts. The Maritimo M48 is one of nine leisure craft on board, three large Aicon flybridges and an Itama besides a number of sailing yachts were transported.The under-deck cargo has still not been revealed.
Registered owner of the Antigua and Barbuda flagged MV B. NOMINATION is DUTCH NEELE SHIPPING GMBH, but sailing under ISM manager BELUGA FLEET MANAGEMENT GMBH the ship manager is BELUGA SHIPPING GMBH of Bremen, Germany. The vessel has P&I insurance from Assuranceforeningen Skuld - Norway.
Only two days after the SOS signal was received a ferret aircraft of a private contractor working for the coast guard of the insular state of the Seychelles flew across the scenery to confirm that the pirates were still on board. Spotted on deck were at least four buccaneers.
"A patrol boat of the Seychelles Coast Guard followed on Tuesday 25. January with a gap of a few miles to the meanwhile commandeered vessel. 'Due to bad weather' [during a best weather period !?!] the chase had to be abandoned" - so the official statement - a clear naval lie. In reality the Seychelles coastguard attacked the hostage vessel with massive firepower and created total havoc on 26. January 2011.
Unfortunately the Somalis had meanwhile found means to break the strong-room open, where the crew was hiding. In several previous cases the explosives and fuel the pirates used as "can-opener" for the "citadels" injured crew members as well as in other cases the pirates themselves. But in this case the citadel had been opened by the pirates with the help of a blow torch, a gas-operated cutting torch. Reportedly no C4 explosives, hand-grenades or rocket propelled grenades were use to break the doors, which is good because it means the crew wasn’t harmed initially.
During the turmoil creating attack by the Seychelles coast guards, two crew-members managed to escape from the merchant vessel, whereby one, the ship's Ukrainian second officer Taranukhin, hid himself in the life-boat, which was then launched and automatically dropped in free-fall into the sea. Another crew member, Ferdinand Aquino, the 46 year old Filipino cook, jumped after him over board and managed to climb into the boat. The two survivors were later hoisted on board of the Danish warship HDMS ESBERN SNARE, which suddenly also was at the scene, though EU NAVFOR had stated earlier that no navy vessel could have possibly reached the MV BELUGA NOMINATION in distress.
The German company was then demanding to know why it was only a telephone call from the Danish warship that alerted them that two of their crew were safe, why they had to rely on ‘leaked’ information from a press release and were not contacted by the authorities directly.
For the shipowners Mr. Niels Stolberg stated very clearly that the military attack was neither requested nor permitted by his company. He is quoted as saying that the owners even never received any feedback after they had immediately reported the distress signal sent from their vessel. That could make the military intervention actually illegal, if the incident happened outside the Seychelles waters on the high seas. International maritime law does not permit the Seychelles or Danmark, the EU or NATO to militarily attack an Antigua and Barbuda flagged merchant vessel in international waters - and even the skimpy UN security council resolutions touching on piracy off Somalia don't change this. However, it is not clear yet, if the attack by the Seychelles didn't happen inside the Seychelles EEZ, because the vessels, sailed by the crew from the strongroom towards Mahe during the initial phase, might have crossed the equator already until the position where the clash happened with the coastguard. But since neither the request was made nor the permission given by the shipowner for a naval attack, the managing director of Beluga Shipping is understandibly angry and he stated in a German newspaper in addition that the firefight had been opened by the naval vessels, mainly the Seychelles coastguard. This indicates that also the Danish warship had been already close at that time and actually engaged in the fight. The actual position of the attack by the navy ships has so far not been disclosed by the Seychelles nor the naval command centres, but it was much close to the Seychelles than the initial position where the pirates came on board.
Two further sailors had apparently jumped overboard during the skirmish, but according to the shipowner, are missing. Seaman Elviro Salazar, 26, a wiper, was later reported missing and presumably drowned.The most serious part of the failed rescue attempt by the Seychelles coastguard and the Danish navy is a report stating that at first one of the pirates had been shot and killed and then according to the shipowner the boatman, a Filipino, was killed in revenge. This was confirmed by diplomatic sources from the Philippines. The unfortunate man was allegedly killed in retribution for the coastguard attack which killed one of the Somalis.
Brenda Vallega, the sister of the killed Pinoy sailor blogged: "That was a careless act by the seychelles vessel. did they ever think that there are human lives who were at stake there? too late response and yet made a careless move? i am the sister of one of the filipino crew and filipino survivor said that my brother was the one killed. but we are still hoping that it wasn''t true and he is still safe and alive. as family members don''t we have the right to know? the agency in the philippines doesn''t even entertain questions by the relatives. i am here in canada and i need to know what is happening to my brother "
Only on 08. February Philippines' Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz confirmed in a statement that the pirates shot and killed Farolito Vallega, 48, on January 26 on board the MV Beluga Navigation. She complained that manning agency Marlow Navigation Philippines, Inc. had irresponsibly delayed information. She said the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has been directed to ensure that all the necessary assistance packages in terms of death benefits, assistance and monetary benefits to all the respective families of the Filipino seamen are provided.
So far the shipowner has not yet responded to requests to release the official, actual crew-list to the Seafarers Assistance Programme. However, the crewlist from December - meanwhile obtained from other sources - shows that under a Polish master the 12 men crew originally comprised 2 Ukrainian and 2 Russian officers and seven Filipino sailors. Only five days after the abduction of the vessel a Kaliningrad-based crew recruitment agency finally confirmed that the two Russians among the crew are actually Russian citizens. One sailor is from Kaliningrad and the second is from St.Petersburg. Fortunately the crew of the 132m long cargo ship is covered by an ITF Agreement through Marlow Navigation Co Ltd. and Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft.
During the attack, however, the engines stalled due to what has been now reveled was massive gunfire from the naval vessles targeting the engine room, which caused a large fire there. But unhindered by the navies, the previously pirated gas tanker MV YORK - with her German captain as hostage - appeared and secured the situation for the pirates.
A short time later, both sea-jacked vessels were observed disappearing towards Somalia.
Interestingly enough, outspoken Niels Stolberg of Beluga Shipping had opinioned in an interview on 22. November last year - long before this actual case concerned now his company again - that the violence would escalate and warned that gas-tankers like the MT YORK could be used by pirates in co-horts with radical Muslim fundamentalists and terrorists as "Mega-bombs". Now, the very MT YORK was just used as a kind of maritime break-down service sent by PIRACY INC. when his pirated ship, the MV BELUGA NOMINATION, was briefly disabled by a blotched naval attack, which as result most likely killed five of the crew and one or two pirates. Stolberg is not happy about the navies and surely not about the pirates, but his demand to have German troops as ship-riders on his ships flying for reasons of tax-evasion a flag of convenience is not met with support by the German government.
The last officially reported position of the hijacked vessel was then on 25th of January at 1700 UTC (20h00 LT) in position 01°45S 051°00E - not far from entering the Somali waters at the start of its continental shelf zone of 350nm, while first information from the ground in Somalia revealed that the vessel was commandeered towards the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast. Already that day the two vessels were expected off Ceel Gaan in the vincinity of Harardheere and then possibly Hobyo.
The vessel and crew are reportedly now held south of the coastal dwelling of Ceel Gaan. The owner stated that so far no ransom demand had been made and there was no clear information on the condition of the remaining seven crew on the vessel. The German Magazine Der Spiegel with contacts to the German Navy command centre, however, feared that two crew-members were killed by massive attack-fire from the Seychelles coastguard, which now claimed it had earlier requested permission to board from the owner but not even received a response, and five more sailors are missing. Der Spiegel even feared that only the Captain and the pirates were left on the ship.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is taking immediate action on this matter,” Poland's FM spokesperson Marcin Bosacki said in a statement.
But reports from the ground, said that seven crew members are held alive on the vessel of whom one is apparently injured. The bodies of two deceased persons are allegedly also kept on the ship. This was finally confirmed by the shipowner on 06. January, who only stated that the Russian Chief Engineer had presumably drowned. The chief engineer of the vessel hailed from St. Petersburg in Russia.
It is extremely difficult for our monitors to establish the truth in this case because many local elders and other contacts they speak to feel ashamed of what happened and might try to not reveal the full, horrible truth.
The identities of the survivors on the hostage vessel could now be established for the Polish captain, the Ukrainian Chief officer, the Russian second engineer and four Filipino seamen, who remain captives of the pirates. If these accounts are correct one sailor would be missing, who was first said to have jumped over board in the beginning of the tragedy, but now was reportedly also shot. Only on 09. February it was finally officially confirmed that now one Polish national, one Ukrainian, one Russian and four Filipinos from the Beluga crew are held hostage, some on the vessel and some on land for fear of a commando attack.
Despite attempts, humanitarian access to treat the allegedly injured sailor has not been possible, because the gang holding the vessel is extremely nervous and fears another attack.
It is also believed that if the ship-owner and the cargo-owners do not respond quickly and decisively then at least some of the very powerful motorboats carried as cargo on the German vessel will be used by the pirate-gangs to further establish their criminal ruling on the waters, which is also holding the coastal communities hostage, wherever they moore the pirated ships.
The vessel was moored off Ceel Gaan at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast of Harardheere district, but is at present said to be far off the coast.
CAYLYN: Seized February 08, 2010. At 04h27 UTC (07h27
local time) Somali pirates sea-jacked the huge Italian crude
oil tanker MT SAVINA CAYLYN (IMO 9489285) with 22 crew
members in the Indian Ocean en route from the Bashayer oil
terminal in Sudan to the port of Pasir Gudang in Malaysia.
The attack took place in position Latitude: 12°10N
Longitude: 066°00E on the Indian Ocean, which is 673 nm
straight east from Socotra Island at the tip of the Horn of
Africa and around 360 nm west of the Indian Lakshadweep
Islands. The ship is carrying a load of crude oil for
ARCADIA, a commodities trading company.
Though Italian newspapers first published the tanker had escaped, European Union Naval Force Somalia spokesman Paddy O'Kennedy confirmed later the Italian flagged and owned MT SAVINA CAYLYN was hijacked. "The vessel was boarded after a sustained attack by one skiff with five suspected pirates firing small arms and four rocket propelled grenades," O'Kennedy said and added: "There is presently no communication with the vessel and no information regarding the condition of the crew of 22 - 5 Italians and 17 Indians."
The 104,255 dwt MT SAVINA CAYLYN Caylyn had registered with the Maritime Security Centre - Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) and was reporting to the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO).
The Aframax of Chinese make was built in 2008 at the Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding shipyard and is insured through Standard P&I Club per Charles Taylor & Co., but so far no information concerning an ITF agreement for the crew was found.
Registered owner is DOLPHIN TANKER SRL for managers FRATELLI D'AMATO SPA , Naples NA, Italy. Fratelli D'Amato Spa is fully owned by Luigi D'Amato, who is also the sole administrator.
Dolphin Tanker s.r.l. is a 50% joint venture between Scerni Group and Fratelli D'Amato S.p.a., and a joint venture between Luigi D’Amato, president of Fratelli D’Amato International Group, and Paolo Scerni, president of Scerni Group - which presently owns 6 tankers. The joint venture might come to an end by mutual consent and banks which granted credit lines for their ships in the past years – i.e., Milan-based Centrobanca, Genoa-based Banca Carige, and Deutsche Bank AG – have been informed of the ongoing restructuring, necessary in order to preserve the earnings from a pool of ships which made last year a 4 million Euros profit.
So far Il Cavaliere del Lavoro (Knight of Labor) Luigi D’Amato serves as the President.
Italian Cmdr. Cosimo Nicastro of the Italian coast guard said the coast guard was alerted by a satellite alarm system about the attack. All Italian ships that register with the coast guard's operations center in Rome have such an alarm system. "There was an exchange of fire between the pirates and crew," Nicastro said and it was observed that the 266 metre long ship slowed down almost to a standstill before it then sped up again and resumed its course, leading the coast guard to think the pirates had climbed on board and are now in command.
Where the pirates instructed to wait for this vessel, like it was the case in other sea-jackings - for instance the weapons-transporting Ro-Ro FAINA or now admittedly the MV SAMHO JEWELRY case?
Initial reports then said no-one was hurt in the attack and Commander Pio Schiano, from the Fratelli D'Amato shipping company in Naples, told a local television channel that he had been in communication with the tanker, stating that the crew were well but no ransom demands had been made.
Italy's foreign ministry released a statement following the attack to announce that a task force had been set up to monitor the situation along with the ministry of defence.
The vessel is reportedly commandeered towards Somalia, while the Italian Navy frigate ZEFFORO, which was some 500 miles away, is heading to the area.
The 266-m long and 46-m wide vessel was expected in Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean Coast, when satellite imagery showed it early morning on 10. February still about 330 km off the Somalia coast.
Vessel and crew have arrived on 12. February off Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast..
IRENE SL : Seized February 9,2011. The Greek flagged and
owned VLCC IRENE SL (IMO 9285823) with a dead weight
of 319,247 tonnes was attacked and pirated at 09h26 UTC
(12h26 local time) on 9 February in position Latitude:
21°27N and Longitude: 063°18E - just 225nm out from Ras al
Hadd (Oman) and 360nm off Okha (India) in the Northern
Arabian Sea. The area is considered a high surveillance and
high security zone at the entrance to the Gulf of Oman,
which leads to the Persian Gulf.
At first the Piraeus-based shipping company First Navigation Special Maritime Enterprises just confirmed its Very Large Crude Carrier had been attacked by pirates, but had no further comment.
"This morning the vessel was attacked by armed men," the tanker's Greece-based manager Enesel said then immediately thereafter in a statement. "For the moment there is no communication with the vessel."
Commander Susie Thomson, spokeswoman for the multinational Combined Maritime Forces apparently fighting piracy in the area, said the tanker was hijacked 220 nautical miles off Oman and was likely attacked by Somali pirates. "We can only speculate as to where the ship is being taken," she told Reuters and stated to AFP more importantly: "We have no reports of casualties."
The MV IRENE SL was not registered with MSC(HOA), but was reporting to UKMTO, EU NAVFOR said later, confirming the capture of the supertanker. The attack had caught the European navies somehow flatfooted, who only could state that the attack happened "around 10h00 UTC" and "approximately 350 nautical miles South East of Muscat."
Handy Shipping reported that there was also some confusion as to the exact details of the ship's route. According to media reports from the owner the Greek owned vessel was en route from the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Mexico with a cargo of crude oil with an approximate value of $200 million, while EU NAVFOR's Operation Atalanta, the European Union security force charged with protection of freight and passenger vessels in the region, stated she was heading for Fujairah from the Suez Canal, seemingly the opposite direction.
Meanwhile it seems to have been clarified that the tanker is full of oil and was heading for the U.S.A.
With FIRST NAVIGATION ENE named as registered owner, the VLCC IRENE SL is owner-managed by ENESEL SA and operated by Enesel Shipping - all of Athens, Greece. Enesel S.A. with a company history of over 150 years currently manages a modern and diverse fleet of five tankers - three VLCC and two aframax - and three supramax bulk carriers and also has three suezmax tankers on order.
The SVXS Crude Oil supertanker is insured by the UK P&I Club but unfortunately there seems to be no ITF agreement for the crew, which has 25 seafarers - with seventeen Filipinos, seven Greeks and one Georgian national on board.
The 333-metre very large crude carrier, was carrying about 2 million barrels of crude oil, estimated by Joe Angelo, managing director of INTERTANKO, who spoke to Reuters, to be nearly 20 percent of the daily U.S. crude imports. The cargo alone has a value of around $200 million worth of Kuwaiti crude oil, which is said to be 270,000 metric tons or over 1.9 million barrels.
While the insurance industry is making hundreds of millions and seaborne gangs from Somalia are making tens of millions of dollars in ransoms, and despite costing taxpayers billions of dollars for the navies, the international armada of warships sent to the region has simply failed to contain piracy in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. Politicians and the industries seem still not to understand that Somali piracy will only end, once serious and tangible development along the coastal communities sets in - areas which have been neglected by the so called international community for decades, while regional proxy-wars are staged and played.
When INTERTANKO, the association whose members own the majority of the world's tanker fleet, said today the hijacking of the VLCC IRENE SL marked "a significant shift in the impact of the piracy crisis in the Indian Ocean", this must be seen as a flawed statement since other giant oil tankers like the VLCC SIRIUS STAR, VLCC Maran Centaurus and the VLCC SAMHO DREAM had been captured earlier and released against likewise gigantic sums of ransom.
And while INTERTANKO spokesperson Joe Angelo told Reuters today: "The piracy situation is now spinning out of control into the entire Indian Ocean," it must be noticed that he apparently woke up late, since ECOTERRA Intl. and the East African Seafarers Assistance programme as well as ECOP-Marine had predicted this and persistently warned since over three years. ECOTERRA Intl. had foreseen such already in 1994 in a briefing to Admiral Howe, noting already back then the possible disastrous developments if no help would come forward to develop the Somali coastal regions.
But while everybody was busy to newly combine naval forces, to invent new deterrents against pirates or to write reports with false statistics, the people in Somalia continued to die, because the root causes of their problems, which also are the main root causes of piracy, were not addressed.
To repeat: The root-causes are the abhorrent poverty, hunger and death in a Somalia, which is kept in turmoil by an UN-masked, ill-conceived international scheme while further reasons are to be found in the greed of those who profit from the piracy menace, many of them in plush offices far off from Somalia.
What is very astonishing in this case is the fact that already on 02.02.2011 at 08h30 UTC in Posn: 20:16N – 063:36E, i.e. 225nm ESE of Ras al Hadd, Oman, about eight pirates in two skiffs and armed with RPG and automatic weapons chased and fired already upon a tanker underway. That is nearly the exact location where the Greek supertanker was taken just five days later. In the first case on that spot the tanker raised alarm, increased speed and contacted a warship for assistance. The pirates in the two skiffs kept firing with automatic weapons. When the warship arrived at the location the skiffs stopped chasing the tanker and moved away. A helicopter from a warship arrived at the location and circled the tanker. The helicopter contacted the pirates by VHF radio and ordered them to surrender their weapons. The pirates replied that they would kill the Iraqi and Pakistani hostages held on board the mother ship, if the warships attacked the skiffs. While it must be respected that for humanitarian reasons and to safe the life of the hostages the navies didn't go further, it can not be understood that they didn't keep the pirate's launch on a leach and close observation. How five days later at the almost same location a supertanker can be captured, can only be explained with naval neglect, carelessness and uncoordinated operations.
There is presently no communication since the initial radio call from the VLCC IRENE SL reporting the attack to another vessel in the area and no information regarding the condition of the crew has transpired, while the huge tanker is commandeered towards Somalia.
"The only thing that has changed is its position, and at 0400 Zulu (UTC/GMT) ... it was 150 nautical miles (277 kilometres) southeast of the Omani coast, heading toward the Somali coast," a spokeswoman for the Bahrain-based international naval force told AFP by telephone.
"It's potentially a floating disaster in the making," a spokesperson from ECOTERRA Intl. said and added: "If anything would happen with the vessel it would be the biggest oil disaster mankind has seen in the Indian Ocean - an area, where coastal states have no means to combat any such gigantic oil spill." "It's a good catch and there must be about 30 pirates on board," Abdi Yare told AFP. Several small boats have left Hobyo to escort the supertanker in towards shore, other pirates in Hobyo said.
But information from the ground says that the vessel is now expected in Ceel Dhanane and not Hobyo.
Other reports stated the oil tanker was spotted in position 16 19 N and 058 49 E on Feb 10 2011 and that the pirates had immediately started to use the supertanker as a pirate ship to attack other vessels.
FV SAGARA 04 (aka FV OCEAN 04): Seized before February 12., 2010. The Sri Lankan flagged fishing vessel was captured in international waters of the Indian Ocean by presumed Somali pirates between the Lakshadweep chain of islands, which belong to India, and the Maldives after it had ventured out to sea from Beruwala. Four Sri Lankan nationals form the crew. Further details are awaited.
MV SININ (Ex: Laurinda): Seized
February 12, 2010. At 15h31 UTC (19h30 local time) on 12.
February 2011, the Malta-flagged, Iran-owned Handymax MV
SININ (IMO 9274941) was attacked by presumed Somali pirates
in position 19 26N and 063 29E, which is around 350 nautical
miles East of Masirah Island (Oman) in the Arabian Sea. The
bulk carrier then was reported hijacked at 15h48 UTC on 12
February in position 201409N and 0641917E, approximately
286NM east of Masirah Island, Oman. The differences in the
naval reporting about the location has so far not been
clarified. The bulker was en route from Fujarah (UAE) to
Singapore and has a crew of 23, of which13 are Iranian and
10 Indian nationals.
EU NAVFOR reported a day later and stated that they too believed the 52,466 dwt vessel was pirated. In a statement the Eurapean naval forces said: "The vessel sent out a distress signal, saying she was under attack, late afternoon on Saturday to which an aircraft from the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) immediately responded. The aircraft photographed 2 suspected pirate skiffs on board the vessel. There has been no communication with the ship since the distress signal was sent and the MV SININ has now changed course towards the Somali coast. There is no information on the condition of the crew."
Reportedly the 190m-long vessel with four toering cranes was not registered with MSC(HOA) and was not reporting to UKMTO.
State-owner company IRISL has named ISIM SININ LTD as registered owner and owner/managers are IRANOHIND SHIPPING CO LTD all of Tehran, Iran.
Subsidiary of Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL - see separate entity record); listed in Annex III of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929 of June 9, 2010, requiring states to freeze its assets within their territories and to prevent assets from being made available to it (with some exceptions); on September 10, 2008, added to the Specially Designated National (SDN) list maintained by the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), freezing its assets under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibiting transactions with U.S. parties, pursuant to Executive Order 13382, which targets proliferators of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery systems; according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, IRISL and affiliates provide logistical services to Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL - see separate entity record); owns six oceangoing vessels transporting crude oil and bulk and general cargo; subsidiaries include ISI Maritime Limited and Jaladhi Shipping Services (India) Private Limited; other subsidiaries reportedly include BIIS Maritime, Imir Ltd., and Isim Atr Ltd.; established as a joint venture between IRISL (51 percent) and Shipping Corporation of India-SCI (49 percent); reportedly established in 1975; commercial director is Ardasheer Yousefi.
In 2002 the Shipping Corporation of India decided to continue to be a partner with the Iranian government in the Irano Hind Shipping Co after disinvestment. According to senior officials, New Delhi has conveyed to Teheran that it stands committed to the joint venture even after its privatisation which is expected to take place by next month. SCI has a 49 per cent equity holding in the joint venture company which has a majority holding by the state-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines. Sources said the reassurance to the Iranian government has been informally conveyed since the joint venture was conceived as a government-to-government partnership way back in 1974. The government has decided to offload 51 per cent equity in SCI in favour of a strategic partner while at the same time passing off 3.12 per cent shares to the employees. The government currently holds 80.12 per cent stake in the public sector shipping giant.
Iran o Hind Shipping Company is also Known As: Keshtirani Iran Ve Hend Sahami Khass; Irano Hind Shipping Company; Iranohind Shipping Company (PJS); IHSC; Iran and India Shipping Company; Iran Hind Shipping Company; Irano Hind; Irano Hind Shiping Co. (P.J.S); Irano-hind Shipping Company; Irano-hind; Irano-hind Shipping Co; Iran and India Shipping Co.; Iranohind Shipping Co.; Keshtirani Iran Ve Hend Sahami Khass; Iran O Hand Shipping Co.; IranoHind Shipping Co. Ltd.
However, the ambitious and oldest joint venture of the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) is now caught in a diplomatic whirlpool over Iran, forcing the company to consider severing its ties with Tehran's national maritime carrier. As the issue is ridden with political sensitivity, the SCI has sought the ministry of external affairs' opinion as international sanctions can make the profit-making unit incur huge losses.
The 2006-built Handymax bulker is commandeered to the Somali coast, while communication is apparently lost.
(aka FV ALFARDOUS) : Seized February, 12. 2011. The
vessel was captured near the disputed islands of Socotra,
which are located on the continental shelf of Somalia at the
very tip of the Horn of Africa, but were handed to Yemen
located across the Gulf of Aden. The number of crew is not
Fishing rights in this fish-rich zone off the coast of Somalia have been leading to disputes since many decades.
European Union's naval mission Atalanta of EU NAVFOR confirmed the capture now in a welcomed move to not only focus their attention on abducted large merchant ships. Further reports awaited.
~ * ~
OTHER CASES NOT COMPLETELY CLOSED:
see: Status of not yet resolved Maritime
Incidences off Somalia
~ * ~
INFORMATION IS ALSO A WARNING TO VESSELS TRAVERSING THE
SOMALI BASIN TO BE AWARE OF LARGER VESSELS BEING USED AS
LAUNCHING PAD AND DECOY FOR PIRACY ATTACKS .
All vessels navigating in the Indian Ocean are advised to consider keeping East of 60E when routing North/South and to consider routing East of 60E and South of 10S when proceeding to and from ports in South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya.
The Indian Government has issued a NOTICE on 30th March 2010: All Indian-flagged motorized sailing vessels are - with immediate effect - no longer permitted to ply the waters south and west of a line joining Salalah (Oman) and Malé (Maldives).
NOTIFICATION BY THE INDIAN GOVERNMENT
- Issued by The Directorate General of Shipping, Mumbai.
DIRECTIONS 31. March 2010
The Directorate has issued directions prohibiting the trading of mechanized sailing vessels south and west of the line joining Salalah and Male, with immediate effect.
Likewise the Government of Sri Lanka has issued a decree instructing especially their fishing vessels not to venture further west than the latitude 70 degrees East.
NON-MARITIME HOSTAGE CASES IN SOMALIA:
Briton Murray Watson and Kenyan Patrick Amukhuma are missing since 01. April 2008. They were working on a U.N.-funded project in the Juba valley, were seized by gunmen near Bua'le and taken to Jilib, 280 km (175 miles) south of Mogadishu. Media reports until November 2010 maintained they are still being held and close sources reveal that the case is one of a so far Unsuccessful Resolution with no independent proof of live since a long time. While, based on reports from the ground, it could be assumed that Patrick Amukhuma had died, the meanwhile penniless Kenyan-Somali spouse with 3 children of Mr. Watson appealed as recently as October 2010 again for the release of the British researcher.
French officer Denis Allex. Somali gunmen kidnapped two French security advisers working for the Somali TFG government from the Sahafi Hotel in Mogadishu on July 14 2009. Police said one escaped on Aug. 26 after killing three of his captors, but Marc Aubriere denied killing anyone and said he slipped away while his guards slept. A video released by Al Shabab was showing the second officer still being held and political demands for his release were made by Al Shabab. On June 9, 2010 the video appeared on a website often used by Islamist militant groups, which said the hostage, named as Denis Allex, had issued a "message to the French people". The video showed the captive in an orange outfit with armed men standing behind him.
France has received "proof of life" of one of its secret agents held hostage in Somalia since July 2009, the French foreign intelligence service DGSE said on Tuesday, 27. December 2010..
A DGSE source said the service had received "a reply to a personal question" to which Denis Allex, a French secret agent kidnapped by an Islamist group on July 14, 2009, was able to respond, proving he was alive.
"No detail was given by his captors on the state of his health nor on his location or the conditions in which he is being held," the source added.
~ * ~
With the latest captures and releases now still
at least 50 seized vessels (of presently 53 listed as
not secured plus 6 motor and 3 sailing yachts on MV BELUGA
NOMINATION) and two barges with a total of not less than
811 hostages or captives are accounted for.
Despite a directive by the Philippine government that no
Pinoy seafarers should ply these dangerous routes, there are
numerous Filipinos currently held captive by pirates. All
cases are monitored on our actual case-list, while several
other cases of ships, which were observed off the coast of
Somalia and have been reported or had reportedly disappeared
without a trace or information, are still being followed
too. While in 2005 there were only three merchant ships
molested off the coast of Somalia and in 2006 four (two
merchant and two fishing vessels), in 2007 when Abdullahi
Yussufs soldiers had returned to Puntland and were trained
to become sea-bandits as well as after the enlargement of
the CTF 150 fleet then there were 13 (incl. many fishing
vessels and small merchant vessels) ships captured. In 2008
with the onset of CTF 151 and the US funded Puntland
Intelligence Service (PIS) and the inception of the EU
NAVFOR armada over 134 incidences (including attempted
attacks, averted attacks and successful sea-jackings) had
been recorded for Somalia with 49 fully documented, factual
sea-jacking cases and the mistaken sinking of one captured
illegal fishing vessel with the killing of her crew by the
Indian naval force. For 2009 the account closed with 228
incidences (incl. averted or abandoned attacks) with 68
vessels seized for different reasons on the Somali/Yemeni
captor side as well as at least TWELVE wrongful attacks
(incl. one friendly fire incident) on the side of the naval
forces, including the horrible murder of Yemeni and Somali
fishermen in a mid-nightly raid on a natural harbour in
Puntland committed by a Norwegian commando unit.
For 2010 the recorded account around the Horn of Africa stood at 243 incidences with 202 direct attacks by Somali sea-shifta resulting in 74 sea-jackings on the one side and on the other the sinking of one merchant vessel (MV AL-ABI ) by machine-gun fire from the Seychelles's coastguard boat TOPAZ (11 Somalis now jailed for 10 years in the Seychelles) as well as the wrongful attack by the Indian navy on an innocent Yemeni fishing vessel and the sinking of FV SIRICHAI NAVA 11 with many injured sailors and at least five people from the vessel and 8 attackers dead. Sea-jacked MV AL-ASSA - without its original Yemeni crew - was used as pirate vessel and likewise sunk while the Somali captors allegedly were released on land. In addition four Somali fishermen were killed by naval helicopter, which the navies cowardly never identified, at Labad north of Hobyo and one fisherman has killed by AMISOM forces near Mogadishu harbour.
For 2011 the recorded account stands at 58 incidences with 50 direct attacks and 16 ships sea-jacked.
The naval alliances had since August 2008 and until May 2010 apprehended 1090 suspected pirates, detained and kept or transferred for prosecution 480, killed at least 64 and wounded over 24 Somalis. (Independent update on the killings of Somalis see: EXCLUSIV - whereby it must be stated that while trying to keep up with the killings and arrests, the deportations of Somalis or cases where they were set out again without supplies to face sure death on the ocean - like the Russians did in at least one case - it is due to the in-transparency of the navies extremely difficult and hard to keep track and the journalist who maintained the statistics gave up and started a new blog). It must, be noted that most navies have become since the beginning of 2010extremely secretive and do neither report properly to the Somali government nor through their media outlets on the real number of casualties and injuries.
Not well documented cases of absconded vessels are not listed in the sea-jack count until clarification. Several other vessels with unclear fate (although not in the actual count), who were reported missing over the last ten years in this area, are still kept on our watch-list, though in some cases it is presumed that they sunk due to bad weather or being unfit to sail or like the S/Y Serenity, MV Indian Ocean Explorer were sunk to cover their drug-smuggling activities. Present multi-factorial risk assessment code: RS: ORANGE / GoA: ORANGE / AS: RED / IO: ORANGE (Red = Very much likely, high season; Orange = Reduced risk, but very likely, Yellow = significantly reduced risk, but still likely, Blue = possible, Green = unlikely). Piracy incidents usually degrade during the monsoon season and rise gradually by the end of the monsoon. Starting from mid February until early April as well as around October every year an increase in piracy cases can be expected. With the onset of the monsoon winds and rough seas piracy cases decline.
If you have any additional information concerning the cases, please send to office[at]ecoterra-international.org - if required we guarantee 100% confidentiality.
For further details and regional information see the Somali Marine and Coastal Monitor and the situation map of the PIRACY COASTS OF SOMALIA (2011). See the archive at www.australia.to and news on www.international.to
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ECOTERRA Intl. is an international nature protection and human rights organization, whose Africa offices in Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania also monitor the marine and maritime situation along the East African Indian Ocean coasts as well as the Gulf of Aden. ECOTERRA is working in Somalia since 1986 and does focus in its work against piracy mainly on coastal development, marine protection and pacification. ECOP-marine (www.ecop.info) is an ECOTERRA group committed to fight against all forms of crime on the waters. Both stand firm against illegal fishing as well as against marine overexploitation and pollution.
N.B.: This status report is mainly for the next of kin of seafarers held hostage, who often do not get any information from the ship-owners or their governments, and shall serve as well as clearing-house for the media. Unless otherwise stated it is for educational purposes only. Request for further details can be e-mailed to: somalia[at]ecoterra.net (you have to verify your mail). Our reporting without fear or favour is based on integrity and independence.
Witnesses and whistle-blowers with proper information concerning naval operations and atrocities, acts of piracy or other crimes on the seas around the Horn of Africa, hostage case backgrounds and especially concerning illegal fishing and toxic wast dumping or pollution by ships as well as any environmental information, can call our 24h numbers and e-mail confidentially or even anonymously or to office[at]ecoterra-international.org and also can request a PGP key for secure transmission.
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© 2011, ECOTERRA SOMALIA, Mogadishu. This compilation or parts of it may be reprinted and republished as long as the content remains unaltered, and ECOTERRA Intl. is cited as source.