24 April 2009

Incident: Stolt Strenth stranded

The chemical tanker Stolt Strength, released by Somali pirates earlier this week is stranded off Somalia without fuel. "'We called the members of the international (NATO/EU) fleet, but they could not help us with the fuel as they don't have the facilities to do so,' said Captain Abelardo Pacheco in a telephone interview." He added that his ship and crew need help and protection from additional pirate attacks.
Per Gullestrup, the director of Copenhagen-based shipping company Clipper, alerted AFP to the MT Stolt Strength's situation after being tipped off by a number of industry sources.

"We don't know why they [the US, EU, NATO and other navies] are not giving them the necessary protection. That's why we are protesting, as a shipping company which has already been a victim of pirate attacks, so that they do not suffer the same fate," Gullestrup said.
(AFP, 04/23/09)

In a separate interview with AP Capt. Pacheco said that "the ship was drifting around 60 miles (100 kilometers) east of the coast of Somalia because the bunker fuel they requested had not yet arrived." Apparently there was strife in the booty sharing that could ignite another attack: "... they [pirates] were allegedly double-crossed by their boss and negotiator, who Pacheco said pocketed $600,000 of the $2.5 million ransom paid." The India-bound ship was carrying phosphoric acid when taken on November 10. (AP, 04/24/09)

Meanwhile the Phillipines' Department of Foreign Affairs says it's Manama embassy is coordinating relief of the vessel with Combined Maritime Task Force and the US Fifth Fleet and this includes overflying the ship to ensure safety. The DFA said it formed a task force to manage the situation. (abs-cbnNews, 04/24/09)