SOMALIA – GULF OF GUINEA - Harsh sentences have been handed down on eleven pirates captured three years ago who have been awaiting justice in Kenya whilst meanwhile yet another product tanker has seemingly been hijacked – this time whilst anchored off Lome in Toga and believed to be carrying a cargo of gasoline.
In May 2009 the EU Naval Force warship FS Nivose (pictured) apprehended eleven suspected pirates who were transferred to the care of Kenyan authorities later the same month to await trial. On the 19th April all the suspects were found guilty and the Magistrates have now passed a twenty year sentence on each of them. In the original incident the French frigate had stopped a pirate mother ship whereupon the pirates had tried to escape in two skiffs, but the frigate’s helicopter foiled the attempt.
In the latest incident on the 30th April the Singaporean owners of a product tanker loaded with a cargo of gasoline received a telephone call saying the ship had been seized by pirates whilst at anchor off Lome, Togo. Such situations in the region usually end with the vessel being sailed offshore and the cargo immediately unloaded into other ships as there is a burgeoning trade in stolen fuel.
According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) this is the second actual seizure so far this year but there are at least seventeen other unsuccessful attacks similar in nature known to have taken place in the Gulf of Guinea area in 2012 with at least two crew fatalities.
Overall successful attacks in the main pirate haunts have been reduced somewhat mainly due to the presence of armed personnel on so many of the larger vessels. Unfortunately this has led to an upsurge of attacks on smaller fishing boats and the like where profits are lower but risks considerably less for the pirates and without the same press coverage and demands for action.
Photo : Courtesy of EU Navfor.