Warship rescues captured seafarers
6 July 2012A Dutch warship came to the rescue of seven seafarers whose dhow had been pirated 13 nautical miles off Oman on 20 June and then used to launch attacks on other ships.
The Omani-flagged Nebarkad and its crew of four Indians and three Bangladeshis were freed in Yemeni waters by the HNLMS Evertsen on 29 June after a two-day search for the vessel in the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea. The hijacked crew jumped overboard when the naval boarding team approached the dhow and were brought to safety. Seven suspected pirates surrendered and were detained.
The continuing risks to shipping off west as well as east Africa have been illustrated in recent incidents in the Gulf of Guinea.
In an armed attack on an oil tanker around 115 nautical miles off Bonny Island, Nigeria on 30 June, the vessel escaped a boarding but was slightly damaged by gunfire from six armed men. On the same day, a container ship around 120 nautical miles off Bonny Island also evaded attack by five armed men but sustained damage during a chase. The crew, who retreated into the citadel, were unharmed. Meanwhile, 70 nautical miles off Port Harcourt, Nigeria, armed pirates chased and fired on a product tanker. They abandoned the attack after an exchange of fire with armed Nigerian naval personnel on board. The crew and vessel were reported safe.
A new agreement in the UK covers seafarers on vessels transiting and working in the "at-risk" piracy zone of the Gulf of Guinea, including those on board oilrig supply vessels. As with similar agreements covering the Gulf of Aden, seafarers can refuse to work in the at-risk area, or receive extra pay if they choose to do so. The agreement, which will be reviewed in November 2012, applies to all ship operators entered in the UK Chamber of Shipping.
Figures from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) worldwide piracy reporting centre for 25 June indicate that Somali pirates currently hold captive about 13 vessels and 185 hostages. However, figures from the British Royal Navy suggest that the figures could be as high as 15 vessels and 200 hostages, with a further 17 hostages held on other vessels or ashore. 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 include:
- Six robbers came alongside a vessel anchored in Visakhapatnam, India on 4 July. Two robbers boarded and stole ship's property, escaping in the waiting boat.
- Robbers boarded a container ship anchored in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania on 3 July, stole ship's stores and escaped unnoticed.
- About five to six robbers in two speedboats approached and boarded a container ship around 25 nautical miles off Guayaquil, Ecuador on 2 July. The master raised the alarm and the crew mustered and armed themselves with crowbars, but when one of the robbers was spotted with a gun, the master ordered the crew to retreat to the accommodation and lock all doors. The robbers filled their boats with stolen items and moved away.
- Robbers boarded a chemical tanker anchored in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on 27 June, stole the fire wire and escaped.
All attacks and suspicious sightings should be reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre, Tel: +603 2031 0014 (24 hours), Email: email@example.com