Monday, November 22, 2010

Pirate Attacks On Freight Vessels Continue Unabated As Trial Commences

Numerous Cargo Vessels Report Assaults
Shipping News Feature

SOMALIA – GERMANY – NIGERIA – SEYCHELLES – OMAN – Reports of attacks by pirate groups continued to come in this week just as Germany started its first trial for the crime of piracy in over four centuries. A gang of ten Somali nationals face the Court accused of an attack on the MV Taipan, a German registered container ship in April. The crew of the vessel took refuge in a safe room when raiders boarded her and took control but the pirates made an error when they attempted to fight off Dutch commandos who exchanged shots before recapturing the ship.

Any sentence handed down as a result of a guilty verdict is unlikely to deter prospective attackers and more attacks in the last few days are a reminder of just how dangerous the seas between Africa and Arabia can be, especially in the current settled weather. Reports are coming in of one or two crewmen being injured when a tanker, the NS Spirit came under attack off the Nigerian coast last night. Again the ten or so armed men were unable to kidnap the crew after they took to a safe room and the seizure proved impossible causing bthem to flee. One crew member has been evacuated for medical treatment according to Russian reports. The NS Spirit is operated by the Novoship company.

The Chinese Search and Rescue Center (CMRSC) report that three Chinese warships have gone to the aid of the MV Taishankou, a cargo ship attacked of the Omani coast on Saturday afternoon. This attack follows an injury to a crewman aboard the MV Lecong, another Chinese flagged vessel attacked last Thursday in the Indian Ocean.

Also over the weekend pirates seized a small fishing vessel 240 miles north of Mahe in the Seychelles. The vessel, complete with a crew of seven, is thought to be sailing toward Somalia.

Pirates are not the only armed threat as after the reported attacks in the Niger Delta there was a serious attack by a speedboat in the Gulf of Guinea on a vessel belonging to the Cameroon Rapid Intervention Battalion and an adjacent oil rig. The attack was claimed by the Africa Marine Commando (AMC) which has committed kidnappings in the past. One assailant was killed along with three soldiers and two civilian workers.

Violent attacks on the rigs are becoming commonplace and, as with shipping in all of the affected areas crews are advised to keep a special watch whilst transiting the region.

Photo:- The MV Golden Blessing a Singapore flagged cargo ship seized by Somali pirates on 28th June and released on 6th November reportedly after the payment of a $9 million ransom.