31 December 2009

Incident: Crude tanker taken

A crude tanker, not otherwise identified, is hijacked in the Indian Ocean about 970 NM off Mogadishu. Some 28 crew are hostage as well. No details. (ICC/IMB Website)

30 December 2009

Incident: China proposes anti-pirate base

A Chinese rear admiral has proposed setting up an anti-piracy naval base off Somalia. Admiral Yin Zhou, in a post to a Ministry of Defense website, spoke of the difficulty faced by Chinese warships operating so far from home without a base. (BBC, 12/30/09)

Incident: Album attacked

The Album, a 105,000-ton Kuwaiti oil tanker, is attacked 800 NM off Somalia's north coast. A spokesman for the European Union naval force in the area said the attack lasted 30 minutes and caused no damage. (AP, 12/30/09)

29 December 2009

Incident: De Xin Hai released by pirates

A helicopter dropped a $4 million ransom on the deck of the De Xin Hai (12/27/09) in an attempt to ransome the ship, its crew of 25 and its cargo of coal (76,000 tonnes). The ship was taken October 19 in the Indian Ocean. (Daily Nation, 10/27/09)

China announced today that the vessel is heading home. (Xinhua, 12/29/09)

Incident: Ship fired upon

A ship sailing the Indian Ocean, not otherwise identified, is fired upon by pirates. No details. (American Public Media Marketplace, 12/3/0/09)

Incident: Navios Apollon taken

The Greek cargo ship Navios Apollon has been taken by pirates 240 NM northwest of the Seychelles. Ten pirates in two speedboats attacked the vessel, which had been carrying 19 crew and a cargo of fertilizer from Florida to India. (SETimes.com)

Incident: Oil tanker attacked

A Kuwaiti oil tanker, not otherwise identified, is attacked in the Gulf of Aden by pirates armed with rifles and rocket propelled grenades. The pirates, in a single skiff, chased the tanker, eventually breaking off the attack. (AFP)

The pirates sprayed their target with automatic rifle fire; there were no injuries or significant damage. (Journal of Commerce)

28 December 2009

Incident: St. James Park seized

Somali pirates have seized the British flagged tanker St. James Park and its crew of 26 en route from Thailand to Spain. (Journal of Commerce, 12/30/09)

Incident: Al Mahmoud 2 taken

The Yemeni cargo ship Al Mahmoud 2 has been taken by pirates, Yemen's defense ministry announced. The vessel had at least 15 people on board when it set off from Aden on 12/18. (BBC, 12/28/09)

It is a 149 m long vessel registered in Singapore. (vesseltracker.com)

Incident: De Xin Hai released

Chinese bulk carrier De Xin Hai is released after a reported ransom payment of $4 million. At the time of capture (10/19), its hijacking 700 miles east of Somalia was the farthest Somali pirate strike to date. (Wikipedia, "List of ships attacked by Somali pirates," 12/31/09)

Incident: Kota Wajar released

Singapore container ship Koto Wajar, captured 10/15/09 north of the Seychelles, is released near Haradere. "The Canadian warship HMCS FREDERICTON from TF 508 is now providing medical and logistical assisting to the KOTA WAJAR." (EU NAVFOR Public Affairs Office, 12/28/09)

China has claimed it rescued 25 crew. "Beijing made no mention of a ransom payment, despite reports that $4m (£2.5m) was delivered to pirates." (BBC, 12/28/09)

27 December 2009

Analysis: Reuters counts captured ships

Reuters tallies the ships in pirate hands as follows: Win far 161: Taiwanese tuna boat, seized on April 6, 2009.
Kota Wajar: Seized on October 15, 2009. The 24,637-tonne container ship, seized 300 miles north of Seychelles, was heading for Mombasa from Singapore and had 21 crew on board.

Al Khaliq - Seized on October 22, 2009. The Panamanian-registered ship carried 26 crew, 24 of them Indian. It is owned and operated by SNP Shipping of Mumbai. The 38,305 dwt bulk carrier was seized west of the Seychelles.

Thai Union 3 - Seized on October 29, 2009. Pirates on two skiffs boarded the tuna fishing boat with 23 Russians, two Filipinos and two Ghanaians on board. Filitsa: Seized on Nov. 10, 2009. The 23,709 dwt cargo ship had three Greek officers a Filipino crew. The Marshall Islands-flagged ship had been heading from Kuwait to Durban, South Africa, when it was attacked 500 miles northeast of the Seychelles.

Theresa VIII: Seized on Nov. 16, 2009. The chemical tanker was hijacked in the south Somali Basin, northwest of the Seychelles. The 22,294 dwt tanker had a crew of 28 North Koreans. The captain of the tanker died from gunshot wounds sustained during the hijack, a Somali pirate said.

Maran Centaurus: Seized Nov 29, 2009: The tanker was sailing from Kuwait to the Gulf of Mexico when it was seized near the Seychelles. The tanker had nine Greeks, two Ukrainians, one Romanian and 16 Filipinos on board.

Shahbaig: Seized Dec 6, 2009: Pirates seized the Pakistani-flagged fishing vessel, with a crew of 29 on board.
(Daily Nation, 12/27/09)

25 December 2009

Analysis: Attempts up, hijackings flat in '09

Figures released by the Internationa Maritime Bureau (IMB) as of mid-December show that although the number of Somali pirate attacks on shipping is dramatically up, the ratio of attacks to successful hijackings has slipped roughly by half.

The IMB counted 209 boarding attempts, 43 of them successful in 2009. In 2008, 111 reported attempts yielded 42 successes. Spokesman for the European Union naval forces on the scene, CDR John Harbour, said "A lot more ships would have been taken if we weren't there." (AP, 12/25/09)

16 December 2009

Incident: CTF 150 gets new commander

Australian Navy Commodore Richard Menhinick has replaced Pakistan Navy Rear Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah as commander of the Combined Task Force 150 as a result of the scheduled twice per year command rotation. CTF 150 is the anti-terrorist force tasked with the extra duty of pirate disruption. It was supplemented at the start of this year with CTF 151, exclusively devoted to anti-piracy. (Gulf Daily News, 12/17/09)

13 December 2009

Incident: Italians take command of Atalanta

Italy has taken command of the EU's Atalanta operation from the Dutch in a change of command ceremony. Task Force 465 will be run from the newly designated flagship, Italy's Etna, "a naval replenishment and logistic support ship." (Press release, 12/13/09)

12 December 2009

Analysis: Lynn Rival uproar endangers minister

The UK government's decision not to rescue the Lynn Rival's owners, the Chandlers, has caused a press uproar that threatens the defense minister's portfolio.
On October 29, the MoD said the Navy had found the Lynn Rival, but made no mention that the [naval vessel] Wave Knight was 50 yards away as the Chandlers were taken off it. On November 17, First Sea Lord Sir Mark Stanhope said the Wave Knight did not have 'special expertise to deal with hostage rescue'. On November 29, it emerged that the Marine rescue force was on board, despite Sir Mark's claims.
The situation is aggravated by hostage videos released by the pirates. Rachel Chandler is shown above in a video still. Lynn Rival, a sailboat, was taken 10/23/09. (Mail Online, 12/12/09)

10 December 2009

Analysis: EU NAVFOR announces "year of success"

EU NAVFOR celebrated its first year of operations with a cake and the declaration that "This has been a period of success for EU Naval Force."
Admiral Hudson, the Operational Commander of EU NAVFOR stated that “while piracy cannot be defeated at sea alone, much is being done in Europe to bring stability to Somalia. We have been very successful in capturing pirates and pirate activity has been severely disrupted”.
Some of the highlights:

* "Sharing of information through the Shared Awareness and Deconfliction Conferences (SHADE), has been extremely successful and this cooperation is bringing together national navies not normally associated with the EU, NATO and CMF."

* "The establishment of the International Recognised Transit Corridor in the Gulf of Aden has been a great achievement in the management and provision of protection to commercial shipping transiting these dangerous waters."

* "Effective communication with the commercial shipping community has been established through the establishment of Maritime Security Centre, Horn of Africa (MSCHOA), a website system that allows EU Naval Force to provide Best Management Practice anti piracy advice to commercial shipping and information in the form of warnings and alerts of pirate threats."

* "The establishment of a secure internet based communications system called Mercury also provides connectivity between EU NAVFOR, NATO and CMF as well as an impressive array of international states such as China, India, Japan and Russia."

Oddly, the force continues to list its primary mission as defense of World Food Programme shipments, with a secondary mission "deter and disrupt piracy." Third on its list is "to protect vulnerable shipping." (Press release, 12/10/09)

Incident: Ariana released

The Greek-owned cargo ship Ariana is released after ransom payment. The Ukrainian crew of 24 was pronounced in good health by a spokesman for Alloceans Shipping, the ship's owners. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko clled negotiations "very difficult." Unidentified pirate sources disclosed nearly $3 million was paid for the release. (BBC, 12/10/09)

The horrors of Ariana's crew in captivity were widely reported in the Spanish press and unremarked by the BBC in its new reporting. See entries under 11/22/09.

07 December 2009

Incident: Bulk carrier fired upon, catches fire

A bulk carrier, not otherwise identified, is fired upon in the Indian Ocean about 1000 NM east of Mogadishu.
Pirates in two skiffs chased and fired automatic weapons and RPG on a bulk carrier underway because of which a fire broke out on deck. The vessel increased speed and made evasive manoeuvres and sent distress message. The crew managed to contain the fire once the skiffs moved away. Later, the skiffs aborted the attack...
(ICC/IMB Website)

Incident: Crude tanker fired upon

A crude tanker, not otherwise identified, is fired upon in the Gulf of Aden. Two skiffs had pursued their quarry before opening up with automatic weapons. The tanker successfully applied evasive action.

06 December 2009

Incident: Fishing vessel taken

A fishing vessel with 29 crew is hijacked in the Indian Ocean about 1020 NM northeast of Mogadishu. No details. (ICC/IMB Website)

02 December 2009

Incident: General cargo vessel fired upon

A general cargo vessel, not otherwise identified, is fired upon in the Gulf of Aden. The ship's crew "spotted a mother vessel at a distance of 6nm. The mother vessel was seen to launch two skiffs, which approached the vessel at a speed of 14 knots." the intended victim radioed for help. "The skiff on port side approached the vessel close to 15 meters and fired automatic weapons. Ten minutes later, the skiff aborted the attempt and regrouped with the mother vessel." (ICC/IMB Website)

01 December 2009

Incident: Crude tanker fired upon

A crude tanker, not otherwise identified, is fired upon in the Indian Ocean about 1200 NM northeast of Mogadishu.
Pirates in a skiff armed with guns chased and opened fire on a tanker underway. The pirates attempted to board from port side but failed and then tried to board from stbd side. The use of water jets from fire hoses and evasive manoeuvres made the pirates abort the attempt.
(ICC/IMB Website)