STATUS OF ABDUCTED VESSELS AND CREWS IN SOMALIA

STATUS OF SEIZED VESSELS AND CREWS IN SOMALIA (ecoterra)

Summary: Today, 01. February 2010, 12h00 UTC, at least 11 foreign vessels plus one barge are kept in Somalia against the will of their owners, while at least 250 seafarers – including an elderly British yachting couple – suffer to be released.

CASES NOT COMPLETELY CLOSED:

MS INDIAN OCEAN EXPLORER and S/Y SERENITY – presumed sunken, wrecks not secured.

BARGE NN – an unnamed barge is held at Kulule (near Bendar-Beyla) since mid march. Ownership and circumstances not yet clarified. In the meantime local people have developed some ailments. Community awareness campaign was carried out, barge is secured.

S/Y JUMLA or YUMLA ? – a mysterious yacht with three Africans on board was kept since a long time near Dinooda.

MT AGIA BARBARA: INDIAN AND SYRIAN CREW STILL WANTED FOR MURDER – vessel escaped from Somalia after the murder of a TFG policeman and the attempted murder of another to the UAE – unhindered by international naval forces. See our respective updates.

Legal Dispute: MV LEILA – The Panama-flagged but UAE owned Ro-Ro cargo ship of 2,292 grt with IMO NO. 7302794 and MMSI NO. 352723000, is held at the Somaliland port of Berbera since September 15, 2009 at gunpoint and under a court order in a legal dispute between Somaliland authorities, cargo owners and the ship-owner. Somali company Omar International claims cargo damages caused by fire on MV MARIAM STAR who caught fire on the upper deck while at Berbera port in early September of 2009. MV MIRIAM STAR – a fleet-sistership – is likewise still at Berbera, but without crew.
The roll-on-roll-off vessel MV LEILA is owned by AL ALEELY GMGH in Dubai. The crew has not been paid by UAE-based ship-manager Al-Hufoof Shipping & Forwarding since five month and consists of 14 seafarers – 7 from India, 3 (incl. Captain) from Sri Lanka, 2 from Pakistan and 2 from Somalia. The crew and vessel are not covered by an ITF Agreement.
“The crew of ill-fated ro-ro ship MV LEILA is being held hostage at the port of Berbera by Somali businessmen owing to a deal which has gone sour. Captain and crew are desperate and pleaded for international assistance,” Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarer’s Assistance Programme confirmed by telephone from Mombasa, Kenya.  The 1973 built rust-bucket is apparently in a very bad shape too and the condition of vessel and crew are deteriorating. The crew asked for urgent international intervention and assistance.  ECOTERRA Intl. is now giving assistance to provide relief and ensure the safe repatriation of the crew. The crew had run out of food and one crew member had to be taken already to Hargeisa for medical treatment. The harbour master of Berbera is helpful, but the court order to hold the ship still stands. Meanwhile the diplomatic missions of India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan have now also been involved and are active to solve the case.

CASES IN NEGOTIATIONS:

Genuine members of families of the abducted seafarers can call +254-733-633-733 for further details or send an e-mail in any language to office@ecoterra-international.org
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FV WIN FAR 161 (aka WIN FAR NO.161 or 穩發161) – The 56 m long, 696 GRT Taiwanese fishing vessel with the registration CT7-0485 and call-sign BI-2485 was seized April 6, 2009 near the Seychelles. The tuna long-liner is said to have been observed earlier to fish illegally in Somali waters. It had after the sea-jacking been involved in the attack on MV ALABAMA. Though Taiwan foreign affairs spokesperson Henry Chen refuted the report, the vessel had been used also for further attacks.
The crew of 30 (17 Filipinos, six Indonesians, five Chinese and two Taiwanese) is in awful condition. The ship’s skipper and first engineer are Taiwanese nationals and the 700-ton long-liner is apparently owned by HSIEN LUNG YIN of Kaohsiung City, Taiwan and operated under the management of WIN UNI MARINE by the Taiwanese company WIN JYI FISHERY CO. LTD. (WIN FAR FISHERY GROUP/Xiamen) from KAOHSIUNG, which regularly sent their vessels into Somali waters from the Seychelles – a key transshipment point for poached tuna from the Indian Ocean to Japan. Taiwan is not a party to the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) and their agreements and thereby feels not bound by its regulations. The Government of the Philippines finally found the manning agency, who lured the 17 Pinoy sailors into the fish-poaching operation – STEP UP MARINE from Singapore. Armed response damaged the vessel when it attacked a naval cargo ship but it could return to Garad, where it was moored.about 7 nm from the beach at the north-eastern Indian Ocean coast for a long time. She lost all her oil but it could be replaced with help from sea-jacked Theresa VIII and though limping she was able to sail again and to Hobyo and Harardheere at the Central Indian Ocean coast of Somalia. The vessel can be moored on the heavy anchor obtained from another, former sea-jack hostage – the MV Hansa Stavanger. The governments of the crew members have now stepped up their efforts to push the owner to come to terms. The crew is still in a horrible state and Selon Edward Huang, the general secretary of the Taiwanese Association of Tuna exporters went quiet. “Let’s all concentrate on getting the crew of WIN FAR 161 free,” commented a spokesman from ECOTERRA Intl. and added “that crew suffers at the moment the longest and the most, whereby the observing US naval vessel close by is not helping in any way to ease the plight of the sailors from five nations.”  The vessel is now held  5nm  off Garacad and the group holding it apparently made efforts to get a new interpreter for proper negotiations. The ransom demand has been reduced significantly, but it is feared that the owner might want to abandon ship and crew to cash the insurance sum in full.

Sea-jacked British couple, Paul and Rachel Chandler, aged 58 and 55, were abducted from their 38-ft yacht S/Y LYNN RIVAL, seized October 22, 2009 en route to Tanzania, and are still held in Somalia. The yacht was recovered by the crew of UK naval vessel Waveknight, after they witnessed the transfer of the Chandlers to commandeered MV KOTA WAJAR. The yacht was brought back to England. The elderly couple is now held on land close to Harardheere, sometimes separated for fear of a commando attack
. The case is turning more and more ugly with pirates becoming brutal, politicians ignorant and financially incapable family intimidated by several sidelines, whose money-guided approach is undermining bids by local elders, human rights groups and the Somali Diaspora to get the innocent couple free. Some humanitarian efforts, however are now under way. – updates can also be found on: http:www.//savethechandlers.com

MV AL KHALIQ: Seized on Oct. 22, 2009. The Panamanian-flagged 22,000 dwt handymax bulker MV AL KHALIQ was abducted around180 miles west of the Seychelles. The crew consists of 24 Indian sailors and two Burmese nationals. EU NAVFOR patrol aircraft confirmed the hijacking, with 6 pirates seen on board and two skiffs in tow. A third, the ‘mother ship’ had apparently already been winched onto the ship’s deck. The vessel is managed by London-based Holbud Ship Management
. The vessel with over 35,000 metric tons of wheat grain is now moored 6 miles offshore at the coast near Harardheere and the crew is on board. Negotiations are said by the ship manager to have nearly concluded. However, families are very worried.

FV THAI UNION 3: Seized on Oct. 29, 2009. Pirates on two skiffs boarded the tuna fishing boat with a crew of 27 with 23 Russians, two Filipinos and two nationals from Ghana about 200 nautical miles north of the Seychelles and 650 miles off the Somali coast. During the attack the Russian captain was shot in the left elbow. The Russian and US navies tried to provide medical aid to the captain, while the captors themselves took him to hospital, had him treated and returned him to the vessel. The fishing vessel and its crew were held just around 1.5nm from where FV ALAKRANA was held at the central Somali coast of the Indian Ocean and is held
at Ga’an, north of Harardheere, south of Hobyo.  Negotiations were said already earlier not to go ahead well, too many sidelines got involved and the talks have apparently have now stalled.

MV FILITSA: Seized on Nov. 10, 2009. The 1996-built, 23,709 dwt cargo-ship has a crew of 22, including three Greek officers, 18 Filipino seamen as well as one Romanian officer. The Marshall Islands-flagged ship had been heading from Kuwait to Durban in South Africa when it was attacked 513 nautical miles north-east of the Seychelles as it was sailing from Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the port of Durban in S. Africa loaded with fertilizer. The ship belongs to the Greek company Order Shipping Co. Ltd., who has not provided the full crew-list, and is held near Hobyo/Haradheere. Negotiations have allegedly been concluded and release operation is awaited. Situation on board very tense due to naval threat.

MV THERESA VIII: Seized on Nov. 16, 2009. The chemical tanker was hijacked in the southern Somali Basin, north-west of the Seychelles. The 22,294 dwt tanker has a crew of now only 28 North Koreans, since the captain of the tanker died from gunshot wounds sustained during the hijack. The vessel went sometimes to Garacad but then returned to Harardheere. The exact content of the vessel is not known and the case is shrouded in secrecy. Apparently a conflict has developed among pirates on board and their masterminds on land. Negotiations concluded and release operation near.

MV NESEYA : Seized Dec. 6, 2009: Indian-flagged cargo vessel with 13 sailors of Indian nationality aboard. Abducted off the coast of Kismayo in southern Somalia. The incident took place some 170 nautical miles northeast of Mombasa / Kenya. It is assumed that the vessel is at the moment used as mother ship for further pirate activities. The present location of the vessel is not known.

MV SOCOTRA 1: Seized December 25. 2009. The vessel carrying a food cargo for a Yemeni businessman and bound for Socotra Archipelago was captured in the Gulf of Aden after it left Alshahr port in the eastern province of Hadramout. 6 crew members of Yemeni nationality were aboard,  in the archipelago.

MT ST JAMES PARK: Seized December 28, 2009 at position 12°58’4N-48°34’1E which is in the Gulf of Aden International Recognised Transit Corridor (IRTC), while on voyage from Tarragona, Spain  to  Tha Phut, Thailand.  The registered owner PHILBOX Ltd. is fronting for the management company  ZODIAC MARITIME AGENCIES LTD  in London, while the beneficial owners are the Ofer Brothers – the Israeli brothers Sammy and Yehuda (Yuli) Ofer
. There are 26 crew members on board including the Russian captain and their nationalities are: 6 Indian, 5 Bulgarian, 3 Russian, 3 Filipinos, 3 Turkish, 2 Romanian, 2 Ukrainian,  1 Polish, 1 Georgian. The ship was registred with MSC HOA and was transiting north west towards the International Recommended Transiting Corridor that she was expected to enter 3 Jan. The UK-flagged chemical tanker sent a security alert 14:20 GMT (17:20 Local Time) she also sent an unspecified distress message which was received by RCC Piraeus. The St James Park loaded at Assemini and Tarragona her cargo of 13,175 tonnes of 1,2-dichloroethane – commonly known by its old name of ethylene dichloride (EDC) and used in the manufacturing of plastics and not dangerous in normal carriage conditions. However, 1,2-dichloroethane is toxic (especially by inhalation due to its high vapour pressure), corrosive, highly flammable, and possibly carcinogenic. Its high solubility and 50-year half-life in anoxic aquifers make it a perennial pollutant and health risk that is very expensive to treat conventionally, requiring a method of bioremediation.  The vessel’s last port of call was Jeddah, where she stopped for Bunkers on 24th December 2009.  The tanker is now held near Garacad at the North-Eastern Somali coast. Negotiations have become difficult.

MV NAVIOS APOLLON: Seized December 28, 2009. The Panama-flagged 52,000 dwt, Greek-owned bulker has 19 member crew (presumedly Greek captain and 18 Filipinos) and was captured at around 17h00 (14h00 UTC) in the Indian Ocean near the Seychelles en route from Tampa, Florida/USA to Rozy / India with a cargo of fertilizer. The vessel is held off Danaane at the North-Eastern Somali coast and negotiations started but are not serious.

MT PRAMONI: Seized January 01, 2010. The Singapore-flagged and Indonesian-owned MT PRAMONI, a chemical/oil-products tanker, was sea-jacked in the morning of the New Years day in the Gulf of Aden at position Lat 12º 30’N Long 47º 17’E while en route from Genoa, Italy eastbound.to Kandla – India. The 24 crew of the 19,998 dwt vessel consists of 17 Indonesians, 5 Chinese 1 Nigerian 1 Vietnamese and is reportedly safe. The vessel is held off Dinoowda at the North-Eastern Somali Indian Ocean coast. Negotiations have been commenced.

VC ASIAN GLORY: Seized January 02, 2010. The UK-flagged, UK-owned car carrier was taken around 620nm off the Somali coast in the Indian Ocean, while after leaving the South Korean port of Ulsan en route from Singapore to the Gulf of Aden and Saudi Arabia. The 25 crew members — eight Bulgarians, including the captain, 10 Ukrainians, five Indians, two Romanians are said to be unharmed. DAYER MARITIME INC fronts as registered owners for
the management company ZODIAC MARITIME AGENCIES LTD and the real owners, the Ofer Brothers – the Israeli brothers Sammy and Yehuda (Yuli) Ofer. The vessel is held near Hobyo at the Central Somali coast. From there it was commandeered towards the Sychelles during the last week of January to aid and refuel a pirate mothership.

2 YEMENI BOATS: Missing since 11. January 2010 from Warsha Island in Alaraj area in Yemen’s province of Hudaida (not yet counted on list of pirated vessels – but mentioned here as alert).

~ * ~

With the latest captures and releases now still at least 11 seized foreign vessels (12 sea-related hostage cases since yacht SY LYNN RIVAL was abandoned and taken by the British Navy) with a total of not less than 250 crew members (incl. 55 Filipinos and the British sailing couple) are accounted for. The cases are monitored on our actual case-list, while several other cases of ships, which were observed off the coast of Somalia and have been reported or had reportedly disappeared without trace or information, are still being followed too. Over 134 incidences (including attempted attacks, averted attacks and successful sea-jackings) had been recorded for 2008 with 49 fully documented, factual sea-jacking cases for Somalia and the mistaken sinking of one vessel by the Indian naval force. For 2009 the account closed with 228 incidences (incl. averted or abandoned attacks) with 68 vessels seized for different reasons on the Somali/Yemeni captor side as well as at least TWELVE wrongful attacks (incl. one friendly fire incident) on the side of the naval forces.
For 2010 the recorded account stands at seven attacks and two sea-jackings.

The naval alliances had since August 2008 and until December 2009 apprehended 613 suspected pirates, detained and kept or transferred for prosecution 351,  killed 44 and wounded 20 Somalis. (New independent update see: http://bruxelles2.over-blog.com/pages/_Bilan_antipiraterie_Atalanta_CTF_Otan_Russie_Exclusif-1169128.html).
Not fully documented cases of absconded vessels are not listed in the sea-jack count until clarification. Several other vessels with unclear fate (although not in the actual count), who were reported missing over the last ten years in this area, are still kept on our watch-list, though in some cases it is presumed that they sunk due to bad weather or being unfit to sail – like the S/Y Serenity, MV Indian Ocean Explorer.Present multi-factorial risk assessment code: GoA: RED / IO: YELLOW  (Red = Very much likely, high season; Orange = Reduced risk, but very likely, Yellow = significantly reduced risk, but still likely, Blue = possible, Green = unlikely). Piracy incidents usually degrade during the monsoon season and rise gradually by the end of the monsoon starting from mid February and early April every year. In the moment the heavy Kazkazi wind is blowing on the Indian Ocean, which makes the operation of the little skiffs problematic.

Source: ECOTERRA International, 30 January 2010

FROM SOMALILANDPRESS

See when we first reported on the issue: SOMALILAND: Stranded ship Skipper pleads for urgent help as crew health deteriorates

See Press release by Berbera Port Authority: Berbera Port Authorities Denies Involving Hijack Ship

Picture: MV Mariam Star, a ship relating to the legal dispute of MV Layla, burns near the Berbera Corridor, Berberanews

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