Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Another Bulk Freight Vessel Seized As Pirate Attacks Continue

Estonians Join the Battle for Law and Order on the High Seas
Shipping News Feature

SOMALIA – PHILIPPINES – Yet another vessel seizure far from the Somali coast this week illustrates the lengthening reach of pirates operating in the region. Bangladesh-flagged ship MV Jahan Moni was taken approximately 1300 nautical miles East of Eyl (Somalia), and only 300 nautical miles from the Indian coast.

The vessel which was taken on the 5th December and reportedly loaded with 43,000 tonnes of nickel was later reported seen heading for the Somali coast. A spokesman for the ships operating company, Brave Royal of Chittagong, reportedly told local press that they had been unable to contact the all Bangladeshi crew of twenty six since receiving a distress call from the ships safe room at 15.30 hours on Sunday. The hostages are believed to include the wife of the chief engineer and no ransom demand had been received as yet.

Meanwhile Estonia became the 26th nation to contribute to the EUNAVFOR – Operation ATALANTA protection effort. Although primarily an initiative of EU member states four other nations, Norway, Croatia, Montenegro and Ukraine have also contributed so far. Estonia recently signed a Technical Arrangement with Germany agreeing to provide vessel protection detachment (VPD) support to Operation ATALANTA and this first team will initially ship aboard the German warship FGS Hamburg whilst she is on patrol.

Lieutenant-Commander Rait L. leader of the Estonian VPD, said:

“It is a great opportunity for us to be onboard the FGS Hamburg. As Estonia wants to be part of the EU Operation ATALANTA, this is a perfect way for us to contribute significant support. My men and I went through several weeks of pre deployment training during which we undertook fast roping, sea survival, weapon drills and rules of engagement handling. The integration on board went very well, and we are already feeling part of Hamburg’s crew."

In other pirate related news there are reports that gangsters purporting to be from the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf attacked a tug pulling a lighter of lumber last week. The gang fired upon the victims until they were forced to stop when they were boarded and robbed of fuel, personal items and navigation equipment before the six fled in a skiff. Without fuel the tug drifted helpless for an hour or so before being rescued by a passing vessel.

The attack is similar to those reported recently in the Niger Delta in that the pirates claim to be freedom fighters in an area rich in oil, yet with local poverty rife. Abu Sayyaf emanates from the Southern Philippines and is believed to have links with Al-Qaeda and have extorted millions of dollars in ransoms and extortion. Their aim is apparently to set up an independent Muslim state and they have regularly claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist acts including the bombing of the ferry Superferry 14 off Manila in 2004 killing 116 people.