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Friday, April 06, 2007

Somali pirate threat leads to ship recall


As set out here, ship owners see no reason to risk their investment in the chaotic situation in the waters near Somalia:
Ship operators in the UAE engaged in shipping cargo to Somalia has called on their fleet of ships to sail to neutral waters and return to their ports of origin after pirates reportedly hijacked two UAE ships, this month.
At least two UAE ships have reportedly been attacked and taken captive by gunmen in the Somalian waters since Sunday evening, according to a maritime monitoring body.
This decision by ship operators in the UAE has come after UAE-registered cargo vessels MV Nishan and MV Nimatullah were hijacked near the Somalian port of Mogadishu.
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Ajay Bhatia, a prominent Dubai-based shipping operator, has instructed his Mogadishu-bound cargo vessels to return to Ajman port in the UAE.
Bhatia owns the MV Veesham 1, the cargo vessel hijacked by a small band of Somali pirates in October last year. Bhatia expressed apprehension over the spate of reported hijacking incidents in the last few days.
“Business in Somalia has been affected again. The situation is very bad,” he said, calling for international attention to the poor maritime security in the African region. Two of Bhatia’s ships are expected to return to the UAE in a few days.
Another Dubai-based shipoperator, Abdi Hassan of Mogadishu Shipping, said recalling his Somalia-bound ships will result in marginal losses to company. “But it is better to be safe than sorry,” he said.
About 90 per cent of merchant vessels entering Somali an waters are from the UAE, according to Andrew Mwangura, head of the Kenyan chapter of the Seafarers Assistance Programme.

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