Today, 06. November 2010, 16h00 UTC, at least 28 foreign vessels plus one barge are kept in Somali hands against the will of their owners, while at least 508 hostages or captives - including an elderly British yachting couple and the 5 new hostages from Somaliland - suffer to be released.
Supertanker freed by now rich somalis
The Marshall Islands-registered "Samho Dream", a 300,000t oil tanker owned by South Korea’s Samho Shipping, was seized by three Somali pirates in waters some 1,500 km south-east of the Gulf of Aden at around 16:10 Seoul time (0710 GMT) on April 02, 2010.
There are a total of 24 crew members on board, including five South Koreans and 19 Filipinos.
The 319,000 dwt very large crude carrier was on its way from Iraq to Louisiana of the United States. The Samho Dream, which was built in 2002, is carrying crude oil that could be worth as much as $170 million at current oil prices. The vessel had been commandeered to Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast and is now anchored 4.6nm off the beach.
The South Korean government ordered their destroyer Chungmugong Yi Sun-shin out of the Somali waters and back to its working routine in the Gulf of Aden, but still there are two warships keeping a watch close by, staging mock attacks and caused tension on board, which made the pirates to issue a statement that they would blow up the oil-tanker if the harassment would not stop and no ransom would be paid. soon. While negotiations with the owners were ongoing but no conclusion reached, the vessel was moved from Hobyo, where she was held since her capture until the advancement of Al-Shabaab spearheaded Hizb-ul-Islam groups, to Garacad, but was then again returned to Hobyo.
The pirates’ demand had at first not been accepted by the company.
Captain Kim Sung-kyu told Yonhap News in a phone call that the 24-member crew with five Koreans and 19 Filipinos is now living in sub-human conditions. Kim said the abuses are getting worse as the pirates deprive them of sleep and food and threaten to kill them one by one if a ransom is not paid. He also expressed frustration towards the Samho Shipping Company’s silence over the pirates’ latest demands, which were issued last Saturday (05. Sept. 2010). The vessel was held clearly visible off the coast off Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast, when a group of international media representatives visited the coastal town in August. MT SAMHO DREAM left that anchorage area off Hobyo) in the morning hours on 14th of Sep 2010. The ship is still commandeered as one skiff has been sighted on board. At 0505Z she was heading eastward at 08/09 kts and was about 80nm east of Somali coast, NATO reported. The shipping community was warned that vessel might have been used either to investigate sea states or to conduct mothership operations in the vicinity of shipping lanes. The giant oil-tanker then was commandeered first to Garcad, and Negotiations have reportedly become extremely difficult. NATO also assesses that the pirated VLCC Samho Dream was conducting pirate mother ship operations near the shipping lanes, approximately 190 nm SE of Socotra Island (approximately 10 38N 056 44E), where the vessel was observed tracking eastbound. The Samho Dream is approximately 333 m long, with an orange hull and white superstructure. This vessel represents an active threat to merchant shipping and any small boat observed in the vicinity of the Samho Dream should be considered to be a potential pirate vessel. Since the 4th of October, however, the vessel was again held off Hobyo at the central Somali Indian Ocean coast until it left again the coast at the end of October for another spree and was allegedly used as pirate base to have the product tanker MT POLAR captured using an earlier sea-jacked Iranian fishing vessel.
"Since the onset of the hostage crisis, this tanker, which often was misused to serve as pirate-launch for other operations, was a constant major concern, because if anything would have gone wrong, the ensuing oil-spill would have been a marine and coastal catastrophe," said a spokesman of ECOTERRA Intl. in Nairobi.
"We received an amount of $9.5 million early in the morning, now we are dividing the ransom and will abandon the ship (soon)," a pirate who gave his name as Ali told Reuters earlier, referring to the ransom paid for Samho Dream. "We have abandoned the ship and set it free and it is sailing away, the crew is safe," he said.
Andrew Mwangura, coordinator of the East African Seafarers Assistance Programme, confirmed the supertanker was free.
"I can confirm Samho Dream is now free, but still in Somali waters," said Mwangura, who is based in the Kenyan Indian Ocean port of Mombasa. He told Reuters the ransom paid for Samho Dream would be the highest paid out to the pirates since they started hijacking vessels in the past several years. "It is a large ship and it’s unlikely that it can dock in Mombasa, maybe it will dock somewhere along South Africa’s coast or elsewhere to replenish its supplies."
Yonhap News Agency cited a daughter of one of the South Korean crew members as saying the company head had phoned her Saturday to say negotiations had gone well and money was sent to the pirates by an airdrop.
"It’s very, very good. I am anticipating a quick and safe return of all the sailors, including father," the daughter, Jeong Ji-eun, said.
Chinese vessel golden blessing freed with golden handshake (ecop-marine)
Finally the tanker with highly toxic chemicals on board and her 19 Chinese crew are free. The vessel was released after a multimillion dollar ransom was delivered. Seized in the morning at 03h27 UTC (06h27 local time) of June 28, 2010, the Singapore flagged, Chinese-managed 14,300 dwt chemical tanker GOLDEN BLESSING (IMO number 9539016) was plying the waters inside the Internationally Recognized Transit Corridor (IRTC) on her way from Saudi Arabia to India, when the 19 men strong all Chinese crew was overwhelmed at position Latitude : 13°23.7N Longitude : 049°58E and taken hostage in the view of a helicopter from a nearby naval vessel. Singapore’s Maritime Port Authority (MPA) confirmed the sea-jacking of the Singapore-registered ship. The 2010-built Handy tanker was then commandeered by its Somali captors to the Somali Indian Ocean coast, where it stopped at Bargaal, but was later taken back into the Gulf of Aden, where it was first held near MT MOTIVATOR at the northern Puntland shores off Habo (Xabo).
The China-owned tanker carries as cargo around 15,000 m³ of highly toxic ethylene glycol - a poisonous chemical used in antifreeze, Singapore maritime authorities said in June that the ship had been chartered by Shanghai Dingheng Shipping Co Ltd.
Li Jingzhong, spokesman of the charterer company SHANGHAI DINGHENG SHIPPING CO, was able to contact the captain of the ship early after the attack and could already back then establish that the crew was safe. Vessel and crew are not covered by an ITF agreement. After first contacts for negotiations concerning the release had been made by the owner-managers Advance Shipping for registered owner GOLDEN PACIFIC INTL & HOLDINGS, the mediation progressed positively.
Vessel and crew were then held mostly off Bargaal and the vessel was released not far off near Gandala at the very tip of the Horn of Africa.
EU NAVFOR finally confirmed the release today, but reports from the ground speak of a fight among the pirates themselves after the money was received.
A spokesperson from ECOTERRA Intl. said the amount of the ransom was less than what was claimed by some media to have changed hands. He, however, declined to comment on the exact figure, because "the policy of the organization is not to contribute to the money-frenzy". "But it is still a multimillion-dollar figure", he said. China says ship, crew "rescued"
The Chinese transport ministry said earlier the Singapore-flagged cargo ship with 19 Chinese crew had been "rescued".
"The 19 Chinese crew and the ship Golden Blessing were rescued safely at 1:03 am Beijing time," the ministry said in a statement posted on its website late Saturday. "The 19 Chinese crew are safe. At present, the Golden Blessing is heading to safe waters under Chinese naval escort."
This kind of half-truth created confusion if it was a military action or a randsom payment. Calls by AFP to the transport ministry went unanswered and also a spokesman for Golden Pacific International Holdings, which owns the ship, declined to comment when asked by AFP about the rescue.
Last December, Yin Zhuo, an admiral and senior researcher at the China navy’s Equipment Research Centre, even proposed setting up a permanent base to support ships on anti-piracy missions in the gulf.
Attacked danish vessel got away (ecop-marine)
Earlier reports from the boundary between Kenya and Tanzania indicated that MT TORM REPUBLICAN had been attacked yesterday, but it was her sister ship MT TORM KANSAS, which came under fire.
However, both vessels (MT TORM REPUBLICAN left Manaus in Brazil on October 27 and has as next port of call American Virgin Islands) as well as MT TORM KANSAS are safe. Both vessels belong to TORM A/S in Hellerup, Denmark. MT TORM KANSAS, however, was fired at by a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) and automatic gunfire.The crew is said to be unharmed and the vessel is expected in Mombasa.
Reportedly the already commandeered Japanese vessel MV IZUMI was used by the pirates in the attack against MT TORM KANSAS.
Who sunk FV SIRICHAI NAVA 11 ?
It still has not been officially declared, which naval ship took the captured fishing vessel from Thailand on 03. November 2010 under fire and sunk it. While most crew member were rescued by a Thai naval ship at least 1 sailor from the crew and one Yemeni policeman, who had served as guard on the vessel, are missing.