Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ocean Freight Safer as Pirates Fight Amongst Themselves

Reports of Deaths as Hostages Remain in Captivity
Shipping News Feature

SOMALIA – With the news this week that there have been no recent major piracy incidents in or around the Gulf of Aden many in the ocean freight industry might allow themselves a wry smile after reports that the slim pickings seem to have engendered a spate of recriminations in the pirate community.

According to local reports several pirates have been killed in a row over money, allegedly part of the proceeds from the $9.5 million ransom paid for the safe return of the Samho Dream, the supertanker released last November following its capture in April 2010. The ship was used as a mother ship for the pirate gang whilst in captivity but the recent deaths may also be linked to another unfortunate hijacking.

One of the two gangs involved in this latest incident are also believed to be the criminals responsible for the seizure and detention of the Leopard, the vessel whose crew is still in captivity in Somalia as reported by her owners Shipcraft A/S of Denmark. The gangs involved are believed to include Xayle Hurde and others from the Sacad clan which holds the four Filipino and two Danish crewmen seen in our video report last year in the most miserable of circumstances.

This infighting is the second such case to occur in the past month with confirmation that three people died in June, including two known pirates, once again in a dispute over Samho Dream ransom money. If local accounts are to be believed the recent case involved Hurde and another highly placed pirate from the same gang, Aadan Low which leads many in the freight community to hope the dispute may escalate and remove even more pirate figures from the scene.

Unfortunately so far the recent deaths seem to be of a personal nature rather than indicating a major split in the gangs which infest the Hobyo region but can be seen as a barometer of the lack of success the pirate gangs are now having when faced with well armed and organised merchantmen. Of late most attacks now reported are on local fishing vessels and other smaller craft which naturally produce far poorer returns for the perpetrators.

Photo: Locals viewing a captured vessel off the beaches of Hobyo.