Weekend Warning: Somali Pirates Hijack Four Ships in Forty Eight Hours

by OldSailor on August 23, 2008

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It has been a disturbed week for seafarers in Gulf of Aden. By this weekend, Somali Pirates have managed to hijack four ships in forty eight hours in the vital sealane linking Asia and Europe.

Here are some highlights:

  • A Malaysian ship, ‘Bunga Melati Dua’ of MISC Berhad carrying about 32,000 tonnes of crude palm oil, worth $2.5 million, with 39 crew (29 Malaysians and 10 Filipinos) on board was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden on August 20. It is also reported that there has been a casualty onboard involving one of its Filipino crew members during the boarding of the vessel by the hijackers. More details are here, here and here.
  • An Iranian bulk carrier and a Japanese operated Panama registered chemical tanker ‘Irene’ (with 19 crew) were hijacked on August 21. More details are here and here.
  • A German cargo ship with nine crew on board were hijacked again on August 21. More details are here and here.
  • The four hijacked ships are having a total of 96 crew on board.
  • It is interesting to note that Somali pirates are no more poor and they have attained near-celebrity status in their area. Now Somali pirates own expensive homes,cars and have more wives due to high ransoms received from the ship owners of the hijacked ships.
  • It is sad to note that all the above piracy attacks took place in the presence of Naval forces from the United States, France, Germany, Pakistan, Britain and Canada operating in the Gulf region.
  • Interestingly, Canadian Warship HMCS Ville de Quebec came within about 25 kilometres of two hijacked vessels and the warship was under orders to stay away from vessels that have already been seized by pirates as any intervention by the warship may harm the crew of the hijacked vessels.

In view of this development, International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has issued a fresh piracy warning to all vessels sailing in the Gulf of Aden.

Update: September 01

One more chemical tanker Bunga Melati 5 of MISC Berhad with 41 crew and 30,000 tonnes of petrochemicals was hijacked on August 29. Read more from PortWorld.

Meanwhile, U.S. 5th Fleet in Bahrain announced the establishment of a Maritime Security Patrol Area in the waters between the coasts of Somalia and Yemen; the area will be patrolled by allied naval forces under Combined Task Force 150 to stop Piracy. Read more from NavyTimes.

Update: September 03

MISC Berhad has decided to stop sending vessels into the Gulf of Aden until additional security measures are in place to protect vessels and crews from piracy. Meanwhile Somali pirates are demanding a huge amount of $4.7 million for release of the two Malaysian vessels. Read more from Marine Log.

Update: September 29

The hijacked Malaysian tanker MT Bunga Melati 5 on August 29, has been released by Somali pirates after taking ransom of $2 million. Read more from Thaindian News.

Update: September 30

Somali pirates have released the second Malaysian oil tanker after the government paid a ransom of $2 million. The MT Bunga Melati 2, which was hijacked by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden off Yemen Aug 19, was released on September 29. That means for both the vessels a total of $4 million was paid. Read more from Thaindian News.

Update: October 11

Fifteen Filipino seafarers on board a Japanese-operated chemical tanker MT Irene were freed by Somali pirates on October 08, 49 days after they were abducted in African waters. Read more from GMA News.

Also, all the crew members including three Indians of an Iranian cargo ship MV Iran Deyanat, hijacked by sea pirates off the Somalian coast on August 21 were set free on October 10. Read more from Hindustan Times.

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