Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Two Pirated Vessels Released As Naval Forces Look On

Ransoms Secure Release of Two Tankers - Two More Ships to Go
Shipping News Feature

SOMALIA – OMAN – INDIAN OCEAN – One of the two vessels released by Somali pirates this week is due to dock in Salalah today. The chemical tanker Royal Grace was seized over a year ago on March 2, 2012 and her crew of twenty two, mostly Indian, had been incarcerated ever since. The ship was accompanied by the EU Navfor Naval Force Flagship ESPS Méndez Núnez following her release, a duty which then fell to the ESPS Rayo after the flagship diverted to attend to another release.

The second vessel, the supertanker MV Smyrni, complete with a crew of twenty six, was carrying 135,000 tonnes of crude oil when she was hijacked ten months ago on May 11 following which she was anchored of the Somali coast. A ransom was paid on Sunday resulting in the vessel’s release and she was shadowed from harbour by EU NAVFOR German and Spanish P-3 maritime patrol aircraft before being monitored by the ESPS Mendez Nunez.

Yesterday care of the Smyrni passed to a private security team as she to travelled north toward Salalah where she is due to dock tomorrow (Wednesday). The incidences of piracy have been greatly reduced following the collective efforts of the combined international naval task forces together with the wider use of private security, use of Best Management Practices and, at times inclement weather. Speaking about the assistance given to MV Smyrni, Rear Admiral Pedro García de Paredes, who is the force commander of the EU counter-piracy task force said:

“I am relieved that MV Smyrni has been released. Her crew is now safe and they will shortly be reunited with their families, after what has been a very difficult 10 months. We must remember that 2 ships are still being held by pirates and 60 men are still being held hostage against their will. Recent disruptions by EU Naval Force warships show that pirates are still intent on getting out to sea to attack ships. We must remain vigilant, any complacency by ships transiting the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden will be seized on by pirates. The pirates’ business model is fractured, but it is not broken. The threat remains.”

Photo:- MV Smyrni seen from the bridge wing of the EU flagship.