November 28, 2008
Chemical tanker hijacked--Security team jumps for it
Somali pirates have hijacked the 27,350 dwt chemical tanker Biscaglia, managed by Singapore-based Ishima Pte Ltd--despite its having a three-man British security team on board, in addition to its crew of 25 Indians and two Bangladeshis.
The ship is one of two 1986-built former Maersk vessels owned by Stamford, Connecticut, headquartered Industrial Shipping Enterprises Management Co. LLC (ISEC). ISEC was set up by Regent Private Capital LLC, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, a private family investment fund co-founded by Charles Stephenson and Lawrence Field in 1989.
According to a report in French newpaper Le Monde, at 7:48 AM today, the French frigate Nivôse received a distress call from the Biscaglia, which had spotted a pirate skiff headed for it with five persons on board.
The Nivôse could not change course in time to respond. It would have taken two hours to reach the Biscaglia's reported location and it was already escorting a convoy of merchant ships on board one of which which was an armed French security detail. It dispatched a Panther helicopter to the scene, but by the time it arrived, less than 15 minutes later, some of the pirates had already boarded the Biscaglia.
The helicopter crew saw three crew members hiding from the pirates on deck. But they were spotted by the pirates and jumped overboard. The three were recovered by a German Lynx helicopter and taken to the French Navy ship Var.
The three men were the Biscaglia's security team.
The three worked for Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions, a shipping protection firm headquartered in Poole, Dorset. According to its web site, the firm, which was established in June this year is named in full Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions (Non-Lethal) and provides security teams equipped with such things as Long Range Acoustic Devices.
Its director, Nick Davis, has issued the following statement:
"APMSS security team embarked upon MV BISCAGLIA came under sustained and heavy attack from pirates earlier this morning. Reports remain confused however we believe that the embarked 3 man APMSS security team (comprising former British military servicemen) were able to mount sustained, non-lethal, resistance, denying the attacker's access to the ship long enough for the ship's operating crew to seek safety below decks and to summon assistance from coalition warships.
Reports suggest that the security team were only finally overwhelmed when attackers gained access to the ship and continued to fire upon the embarked security team.
I have spoken with my team leader on the phone and he informs me that the level of violence was unprecedented and forced them reluctantly to leave the vessel after every effort was made to ensure the safety of the ships crew, further whilst in the water the security team were again fired upon. The hijacked vessel with pirates in control then attempted to run them down."