Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Freight Shipping Has A Mixed Week With The Pirates Again

Gangs Seize One Vessel, Release Another and Miss One Altogether
Shipping News Feature

SOMALIA – Since our last report on the current pirate situation there has been another mixed week of fortunes for freight vessels in the Gulf of Aden and beyond. On Christmas Day the MV Thor Nexus and her all Thai crew of twenty seven, was attacked and seized by an armed gang some 450 nautical miles North East of the island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean. The 20,000+ tonne ship, which is also Thai owned and registered, was en route to Bangladesh from Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates when she was captured.

The Handy Shipping Guide office in Thailand report the vessel was being shadowed at a distance by a warship from the Royal Thai Navy but that the pirates had radioed to threaten the crew with death if they were interfered with. A helicopter had ascertained the crew were held on the bridge to prevent an assault as she passed through Omani waters on her way, presumably to Somalia, with twelve pirates counted by surveillance craft.

The attack came just three days after a pirate skiff made an unsuccessful assault on another Thai vessel, the Thor Nautilus and believed to be a sister ship of the Nexus with similar proportions. Despite a prolonged machine gun attack around 900 miles off the Somali coast, the assailants were defeated by the razor wire surrounding the vessel when they attempted to board.

Latest news is that a German chemical tanker, the Marida Marguerite, hijacked by Somali pirates last May, was released yesterday by her captors, together with all twenty two crew, after a $5.5 million ransom was handed over by the vessels owners. The Marshalls Islands flagged ship was taken after a prolonged assault by small arms and rocket propelled grenade fire in Omani waters. All crew are reportedly safe and the ship is believed to be heading for Belgium, her original destination, to deliver her belated cargo.

Photo:- The Marida Marguerite before her capture