Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bulk Freight And Container Shipping Attacked Again by Pirates

Successes Reported by Multinational Force - but One More Ship Lost
Shipping News Feature

SOMALIA – Another mixed week for the forces of good and evil with the abduction of the MV Albedo, a Malaysian freighter carrying containers from Jebel Ali taken hostage whilst she was en route to Mombasa. The ship was captured on the 26th November, along with her crew of 23 Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Iranian and Sri Lankan sailors about 900 miles East of Mogadishu. This brings the total of known hostages to five hundred and twenty one together with their twenty two vessels.

On a brighter note it looks as if the combined measures of better multi national patrols (EU NAVFOR and NATO’s Ocean Shield), survival techniques (safe rooms equipped with vessel control equipment) and self defence methods (water cannon, sound and laser weapons, razor wire etc.) are having a positive effect on the percentage of successful hijacks. The utilisation of the recommended ‘Best Practices’ undoubtedly help to lower risks and should be studied and employed by any vessels in the region. Four recent incidents demonstrate this.

On the 26th November the MV Medi Chennai was attacked by pirates using small arms and rocket propelled grenades (RPG's). The Captain of the bulk carrier mustered all non essential personnel in a safe room and immediately started evasive manoeuvres by zigzagging five degrees at a time. When the raiders attempted to board the combination of erratic course, speed and the liberal use of razor wire around the upper decks thwarted all their efforts and they were forced to withdraw empty handed.

The following day came an attack by two pirate skiffs against the products tanker MV D & K 1 which immediately altered course, increased speed and mustered all non essential crew in a safe room. Fire hoses were rigged on the deck along with foam turrets. The vessel also fired ships parachute flares to deter the raiders. Our photograph was taken by a crew member and illustrates the use of a water curtain spewed from the vessels ballast tanks and the churning mass of water from ship’s side, in conjunction with the zigzagging manoeuvres, made it impossible for the pirates to board.

A day later on the 28th the Liberian flagged MV Pistis, was attacked by a gang in a skiff around 800 miles North East of Socotra Island. Alerts were sent out by the skipper on VHF16 and despite being armed with AK47’s and boarding ladders the zigzagging bulk carrier proved an impossible target.

Yesterday the MV Iver Exact was attacked in the same area by a skiff similar to the one involved a day earlier. Despite rocket propelled grenades being fired at his product tanker the captain did not stop and an attempt to board using ladders caused one of the pirates to fall into the sea. At this point the skiff turned to assist their fallen comrade and the tanker made her escape.

Photo: The ballast outflow of the MV D & K 1 used as a water curtain to repel would be boarders.