Hostage rescue ends in tragedy
2 March 2012A Danish warship, Absalon, successfully rescued 16 seafarers held hostage on a Somali pirate mothership and detained 17 pirates in an operation off Somali on 27 February. Tragically, two further hostages were seriously injured and died during the rescue mission. The incident is now under review.
It is believed that all the hostages were Iranian and Pakistani, and that the pirates had forced them to sail the mothership.
In February 2010, the Absalon rescued the Antigua and Barbuda-flagged Ariella and its 25 crew from armed pirate attack off the coast of Somalia.
In a further escalation of pirate activity off West Africa, the captain and chief engineer of a cargo ship anchored off Port Harcourt, Nigeria were taken hostage on 28 February after eight armed pirates boarded and started firing. The pirates ransacked the ship, stole crew cash and belongings, ship's cash and property, and escaped with the hostages. One crewmember was wounded and another is unaccounted for.
In another incident off Baylesa, Nigeria on 29 February, armed robbers chased and fired on a chemical tanker for about an hour before moving away. The ship was damaged by gunshot but the crew was safe.
According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) worldwide piracy reporting centre, on 29 February Somali pirates held captive 12 vessels and 177 hostages. Hostages continue to include seven Indian seafarers from the Asphalt Venture and four South Koreans from the Gemini, still held captive despite the payment of ransoms.
The latest incidents worldwide reported to the IMB and NATO Shipping Centre include:
- A dhow was hijacked 150 nautical miles north of Socotra Island, Gulf of Aden on 28 February.
- Two skiffs with six pirates approached and fired on a ship in the Bab-el Mandeb straits, Red Sea on 28 February, but the vessel escaped.
- Robbers boarded a containership anchored west of Kutubdia Island, Bangladesh on 29 February and escaped with ship's stores.
- Nine skiffs approached a bulk carrier in Bab-el Mandeb straits on 27 February. The vessel took evasive action and the onboard security team fired warning shots. The pirates abandoned their approach following a chase and further warning shots.
- Three robbers armed with knives boarded an offshore supply ship anchored at Abidjan, Ivory Coast on 26 February, threatened the watchman and escaped with the pressure washer, which the harbour police later retrieved.
- Three skiffs approached a containership in the Straits of Hormuz, Gulf of Oman on 25 February. The master raised the alarm and altered course, the crew mustered in the citadel and the onboard armed guards fired warning shots, which resulted in the pirates moving away.
- Three skiffs chased a containership 30 nautical miles east of Masirah Island, Oman on 25 February but abandoned their approach after the security team was deployed and the ship altered course towards a coalition warship.
- Five robbers approached a guard vessel anchored at Pointe Noire, Congo on 30 January. One armed with a long knife boarded, stole ship's stores and escaped when the alarm was raised and the crew mustered.
- Seven pirates in two skiffs chased a chemical tanker in Bab-el Mandeb straits on 15 January but abandoned their attack after the master raised the alarm, altered course and the onboard armed security team fired flares and a warning shot.