Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cambodian Cargo Vessel Detained Over Freight Dispute Not By Pirates

Early Reports Contradicted by Officials
Shipping News Feature

SOMALILAND – The vessel which others reported last week as pirated whilst in Somali waters has in fact been detained by port authorities in a commercial shipping dispute according to local officials. The vessel, reportedly the MV Layla-S is apparently a fleet sister of the Maria Star, a vessel which lost cargo after catching fire in a previous incident. Reports state that a local businessman has obtained a Court injunction to impound the Layla-S after she had finished discharging freight in the Somaliland port of Berbera, the former capital and the main seaport for British Somaliland.

Ownership of the vessels involved cannot be confirmed but apparently reports emanating from the Seafarers' Assistance Programme in Kenya earlier this week were untrue. These are likely to have been inspired by communications to the organisation from members of the ship’s multinational crew who had been given an incorrect picture of the circumstances surrounding their detention.

Sources quote Mr Bile Hirsi, a Berbera Port official who says the incident is directly related to the fire aboard the Maria Star last October which resulted in the destruction of freight belonging to a merchant Mr Abdillahi Omar. Somaliland is proud of its situation which is more stable than that of its neighbour in the South where lawlessness is rife.

Handy Shipping Guide chose not to publish the earlier, speculative reports of piracy as it was not possible to obtain any official confirmation at the time.

Photo: Berbera Port