Indian hostages rescued as pirate attacks continue
16 March 2012A naval coalition warship has rescued 25 Indian seafarers captured by pirates. The rescue mission came after a ship reported that it had come under an unsuccessful attack in the Gulf of Aden on 28 February. A naval helicopter investigated and located a pirate skiff and Indian-flagged and crewed dhow that had been pirated with 25 Indian seafarers held hostage. The suspected pirates threatened to kill the crewmembers if the naval forces took any action against the dhow. The following day the warship destroyed two unmanned skiffs towed by the dhow, saving the boat and its crew after the suspects fled. The crew received food, water and medical care and the dhow was able to continue to her next port of call.
The incident comes as Somali pirate activity continues. Pirates are reported to have seized a United Arab Emirates-owned, Panama-flagged chemical tanker, Royal Grace, with 22 crew around 211 nautical miles off Masirah Island Oman on 2 March. The tanker then sailed towards the coast of Somalia.
Following recent moves on tackling piracy at international level, the USA has now handed over 15 suspected Somali pirates to Seychelles to stand trial. This follows a change in the Seychelles law allowing it to prosecute pirates captured beyond its territorial waters. The suspects were detained in January following a US Navy rescue of 13 Iranian hostages hijacked in the Arabian Sea.
According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) worldwide piracy reporting centre, on 8 March Somali pirates held captive 14 vessels and 199 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:
- Ten robbers boarded a refrigerated cargo ship anchored at Boma, Congo on 14 March, held hostage and injured a crewmember, and escaped with ship's cargo and stores.
- A pirate skiff attacked a merchant ship in the Somali basin on 11 March, but the vessel escaped.
- Five pirates chased and fired on a containership 210 nautical miles off Socotra Island, Yemen on 11 March. After a rocket-propelled grenade was fired, the ship increased speed, enforced anti-piracy measures and the crew mustered in the safe area. The pirates moved away after about 20 minutes.
- A skiff approached and chased a tanker in the Red Sea on 10 March. The master raised the alarm, activated anti-piracy measures and contacted an Iranian warship for assistance. The pirates abandoned the attack on seeing the warship.
- Two robbers boarded a bulk carrier anchored at Tanjung Priok, Indonesia on 11 March and escaped with ship's property after the alarm was raised.
- A robber boarded an oil tanker anchored at Dumai, Indonesia on 8 March but escaped empty-handed after the alarm was raised, the ship's whistle sounded and crew mustered.
- Seven heavily-armed men approached a chemical tanker off Port Harcourt, Nigeria on 7 March but abandoned their attempted attack after the tanker raised the alarm, increased speed and the onboard armed naval guards made their presence known.
- A vessel was pirated off Somalia on 6 March but later released.
- A skiff followed a merchant vessel for about two hours in the Arabian Sea on 3 March. The vessel took evasive action and escaped attack.
- Around ten robbers armed with knives boarded a bulk carrier anchored at Kakinada, India on 3 March and escaped with ship's stores after the alarm was raised.
- Two robbers boarded a tanker off Karimun, Indonesia on 30 January but escaped empty-handed after the alarm was raised.
- Robbers boarded a ship anchored at Chittagong, Bangladesh on 21 January and escaped with stolen stores after the alarm was raised.