November 18, 2008
More ship hijackings reported
Even as the U.K. was handing over to Kenya eight Somali pirate suspects who survived a November 11 shoot out, NATO reported that
at least three more ships have been hijacked since Somali pirates seized their largest prize thus far, the VLCC Sirius Star.
NATO said that FV Ekawatnava 5 was hijacked today, as was, in relatively close proximity, MV Delight. A Japanese-managed chemical tanker was hijacked on November 15,
Ekawatnava is a fishing vessel registered in Kiribati and is carrying a crew of 12. Delight is a 43,218 dwt Hong Kong flagged bulk carrier whose registered owner is Starry Shine International but which is managed by Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines and which was bound for Iran with a cargo of wheat when it, and its crew of 25 were captured.
The ship hijacked on November 15, the Chemstar Venus, is 19,.455 dwt Panama flagged chemical tanker (managed by Japan's Iino Marine Services).
Eight suspected pirates apprehended by crew members from Royal Navy frigate HMS Cumberland off Africa's east coast last week have been handed over to the custody of the Kenyan Police today, reports the U.K. Ministry of Defence.
The suspected pirates were caught on Tuesday, November 11, 2008 when HMS Cumberland, deployed to the Gulf of Aden, saw a Yemeni fishing vessel, which had earlier taken part in an attack on a Danish Merchant Vessel.
After various non-forcible methods failed to stop the fishing vessel, a Royal Marine boarding party was despatched in rigid inflatable boats from HMS Cumberland to intercept the vessel. The boarding party boats circled the vessel in an attempt to encourage it to stop. An exchange of gunfire ensued during which two personnel believed to be Somali pirates were shot and killed by the boarding party in self-defense. The fishing boat's crew surrendered, thus allowing a compliant boarding.
A Yemeni national was also found injured and later died, despite receiving emergency treatment from HMS Cumberland's doctor.
The Yemeni vessel and its crew were released while the suspected Somali pirates were subsequently transferred to RFA (Royal Fleet Auxiliary) Wave Knight which earlier today docked in Mombasa to hand them over to the Kenyan Police, who will seek prosecution through the Kenyan courts.
U.K. Minister for the Armed Forces, Bob Ainsworth, who is currently visiting Kenya said:
"This is clear evidence that we will take every opportunity to combat the pirates who disrupt legitimate trade and add significant costs to goods UK consumers rely on.
"We are sending a strong message to pirates that their activities will not be tolerated and that the global community is united in its efforts to deter and disrupt them.
"The Royal Navy is actively contributing to international counter-piracy efforts around the Horn of Africa and I am pleased to announce that, earlier today, the Royal Navy successfully completed a counter-piracy operation by handing over to the custody of the Kenyan Police eight suspected pirates interdicted on November 11. during an incident at sea."
HMS Cumberland is currently the UK's contribution to the NATO mission in the Maritime Security Patrol Area, providing security to shipping transiting the Gulf of Aden.
Mr Ainsworth added:
"I would like to pay tribute to the crews of HMS Cumberland, RFA Wave Knight and to the Royal Marines, whose bravery and professionalism played a critical part in the successful conclusion of this operation. I am extremely proud of the men and women involved. HMS Cumberland has since resumed her counter-piracy patrol duties.
"But we are no under no illusions about the scale of the challenged presented by piracy. This has been underlined by the hijacking of the merchant vessel Sirius Star on Saturday. The taking of such a large vessel so far out to sea represents a step change in capability for the pirates. Alongside our international partners, Her Majesty's Government is deeply concerned, not least because two of the crew [of the Sirius Star] are British. Our thoughts are with the men and their families at this difficult time. We call on those holding the men to release them and the rest of the crew immediately."