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calendar   Thursday - January 10, 2013

Twelve Fewer Pirates On The Loose Today, 3 Killed 3 Weeks Ago

Coordinated Action Repels Attack, Captures Pirates

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armed and dangerous: MSC Jasmine firefight drives off RPG wielding pirates




A medium-small container ship, the MSC Jasmine, was sailing from Salalah Oman to Mombasa Kenya. Right through Somali Pirate Central, about 400 NM ENE of Mogadishu. No surprise, the pirates came after them, in an attack skiff (:-0 “ban assault boats!") and a small mother ship. The Jasmine was attacked with small arms fire and RPGs, but security forces onboard held the pirates at bay. The Jasmine’s crew hid out in the ship’s safe room and put out a mayday. NATO forces quickly responded, including the US ship USS Halyburton, the French ship FS Surcouf, German P-3 Orion patrol aircraft from the Horn of Africa base in Djibouti, and helicopters from one or both ships. The French sent in a boat crew and 12 pirates were captured in the two small boats. Jasmine sustained very minor damage, with no injuries to her crew. If the French decide it’s worth it, the pirates will be turned over to the prison in the Seychelles.

MSC Jasmine is a medium-small container ship, 198m L x 32m W (650’x105’), 31430 GRT.

So, not bad. Good work all around. And it’s nice to see a clear defensive use of firearms. Too bad there wasn’t an immediate group hanging.

A merchant vessel sailing 260 miles off the Somali Coast, made a distress call, reporting that she was coming under attack by six men in a fast moving boat, armed with rocket propelled grenades (RPG).  Thankfully, having employed avoidance tactics, the merchant vessel was able to escape the attack.

Upon hearing the distress call, NATO warship USS Halyburton, operating as part of NATO’s counter piracy operation – Ocean Shield, and on patrol 80 nautical miles away, launched her helicopter and was able to quickly locate a suspect boat – which was by now towing another vessel, with several men on board.

Six pirates were aboard the skiff armed with small arms and a rocket launcher RPG type. The crew of the MSC Jasmine – a Cypriot container ship flying the Panamanian flag – took refuge in the citadel. And the team of private security guards on board went into action.

a small aside: off the coast of Somalia, real AK-47s - genuine automatic assault rifles (light machine guns) - are referred to merely as “small arms”. Notice how the rest of the planet is not in a brick-shitting frenzy over this.

As a result of the action of the security team, the suspected pirates moved away and with no personnel injured and only minor superficial damage to the ship, the merchant vessel continued its transit to Mombasa.

While the attack was underway, the Commander of the NATO counter piracy task force, Rear Admiral Antonio Natale from the Italian Navy, tasked the USS Halyburton, which was in the vicinity, to proceed towards the suspected pirates position.

Within a few hours, Halyburton with the support of a German Maritime Patrol Aircraft and the FS Surcouf, then located and detained 12 suspected pirates on board a motor whaler, that appeared to be acting as a ‘mothership’ together with one smaller skiff.

[tranlated from the original French] The 12 suspects have been arrested - Sunday - by the French military crews collision in two stages: first the pirates skiff (there were only two on board), and those for the whaling boat mother (they were ten on board). They were brought on board for further investigation. “The suspects are being interrogated to gather evidence for possible prosecution” says one well at Atalanta HQ in Northwood. They could - if the outcome is positive - be handed over to a nearby country - Seychelles for example - if the local prosecutor believes the evidence sufficient for prosecution.

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12/23/12: Crew Finally Free, 3 Pirates Killed

Speaking of pirates ... it must really suck to be these guys. Captured by pirates more than three years ago, then abandoned by their company and left to rot in Somalia. Finally freed the day before Christmas Eve by some nifty paramilitary action from that group in Puntland (a break-away part of northern Somalia that’s trying to bring peace and order to the area) that really is not making the news. I hope the survivors are at least able to sue for back pay.

Vessel’s crew released after nearly three years in captivity off Somalia
After 1000 days in captivity the 22 remaining crew of the MV Iceberg 1 were freed as a result of a two- week operation by the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF) in Garaad in the Mudug region of Somalia. The freed hostages needed some medical attention and are reportedly showing signs of physical abuse and illness. During the years of captivity two crew died.

The vessel was hijacked off the Yemeni coast in March 2010. Since the vessel was hijacked the crew have been left on their own with reportedly little support from their owners. During its captivity, the vessel grounded and is believed to be a total loss .

The IMB commended the PMPF on their actions against the pirates. None of the crew were harmed during the operation. An IMB spokesman commented, “Whilst this is a successful rescue operation, our thoughts are with the remaining 139 hostages still held by pirates, 28 of whom have been there for just under two years.”

The number of successful pirate attacks off the Somali coast have decreased in the past year, largely due to the efforts of international navies in the region, as well as the use of private armed security guards on vessels and other measures to harden vessels against attack.

Gosh, you’d think after being held prisoner for THREE YEARS there would be more to the story than that, right? Of course there is. You just have to visit the British papers to get to the real story. And it’s an awful one ...

By the time the 22 surviving crew of the MV Iceberg-1 were finally rescued last week, most had long given up hope of ever returning home.

The ageing cargo ship was launched an attack against the Somali pirates to free eight Yemenis, five Indians, four Ghanaians, two Sudanese, two Pakistanis and a Filipino man who had been held captive since March 29, 2010.

“We thought the whole world had forgotten us but then the attack started, and again we began to hope and pray,” said 25-year-old Swapnil Jadhav, a seaman from western India’s Sangli town.

Mohamad Abdirahman, PMPF director, said: “Our forces started the operation on December 10, when they went to the coast and laid siege to the ship with the approval of the Puntland government. We had the military resources to rescue them.”

In the end, though, their rescue was not carried out by the multi-national piracy fleet, with its warships and hi-tech weaponry, but a ramshackle Somalia anti-piracy force based in northern Puntland region. They killed three of the pirates and laid siege to the ship for two weeks, riddling it with bullets, before the surviving pirates finally surrendered.

[why was the ship not ransomed? ] Its Dubai-based owner, who appears not to have been insured, refused to pay a ransom for it and simply went to ground, ignoring pleas for help from the hostages’ families.

Meanwhile, the governments representing the different sailors on board — six Indians, nine Yemenis, four Ghanaians, two Sudanese, two Pakistanis and one Filipino — were either unable or unwilling to mount a rescue attempt. So, too,was the multinational anti-piracy force, which generally prefers hijacked ships to be freed by ransom, on the basis that freeing sailors by force carries too much risk of casualties.

All of which allowed the Iceberg 1 to gain the dubious honour of becoming the longest hijack case in modern history. And one of the grimmest.

Conditions on board the boat were appalling, with the crew driven almost mad by prolonged confinement and lack of proper food and drink. Two of them died in the process, one apparently jumping overboard after becoming unhinged from stress.

As a source in the shipping world admitted to me earlier this year, the fact that the ship lay unrescued for so long is a “scar on the conscience of the industry”. The families of the hostages concerned also point out — rightly I suspect — that had this case involved Westerners, it would have been resolved long ago.

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/10/2013 at 12:18 PM   
Filed Under: • Pirates, aarrgh! •  
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