Philippine Sea

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Somali Pirates: Hijack Ship Out of Convoy

As noted in the comments to this post noting the success of EU convoys, Somali pirates have now taken a ship out of a convoy Somali Pirates Hijack German-Owned Cargo Ship, Crew:
A German-owned ship with 11 crew was seized by pirates in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia, the owners and the European Union’s naval force said.

The MV Victoria, which flies the flag of Antigua and Barbuda and is owned by Haren, Germany-based Intersee Group, was taken yesterday afternoon about 120 nautical miles north of the Somali port of Boosaaso, the EU’s anti-piracy naval mission said in a statement. The ship was traveling in a convoy, and a helicopter from the nearest warship arrived too late to prevent the attack, the EU said.
Here's the entirety of the comment left on yesterday's post:
German bulk carrier hijacked in the Gulf of Aden 05/05/2009 18.46 GMT A German owned and German managed bulk carrier this afternoon was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden in a position approximately 120 nautical miles north of Boosaaso in Somalia (1322N 04923E). The vessel, carrying a load of 10.000 tons of rice, was sailing in the transit corridor and was picked out of a group transit within only a few minutes. A helicopter from the closest warship was too late to prevent the ship from being hijacked. The crew of 11 sailors is believed to be unhurt.

05/05/2009 11.27 GMT
Pirate Attack Somali Basin (02 38S,053 49E) Two skiffs chased a vehicle carrier underway and attempted to board her several times. Vessel made evasive manoeuvres and escaped from the pirates. The skiffs aborted the attempt.

All vessels are advised to remain vigilant.
It is recommended that all vessels not making scheduled calls to ports in Somalia, Kenya or Tanzania keep as far from the Somali coast as possible. MSCHOA now advise that vessels should consider maintaining a distance of more than 600 nautical miles from the coastline and when routing north/south consider keeping East of 60E Longitude until East of the Seychelles. All vessels transiting the area and not able to keep 600 nm off the Somali coast are advised not to approach closer than 100 nm from the position given in this report and maintain maximum CPA with any ship acting suspiciously.

While navigating in the region vessels are urged to operate at a heightened state of readiness, maintaining strict 24 hour anti-piracy visual and radar watches, actively implement recommended anti-piracy measures and regularly report their position/course/speed to UKMTO.

***
05/05/2009 06.03 GMT
Pirate Attack Gulf of Aden (13 09 N ,049 08 E) ---WARNING WARNING WARNING--- At 0438 UTC a merchant vessel is currently under attack by [pirates/x skiffs] in position 13 09 N 049 08 E. At least two skiffs. Attack is still ongoing. While navigating in the region vessels are urged to operate at a heightened state of readiness, maintaining strict 24 hour anti-piracy visual and radar watches, actively implement recommended anti-piracy measures and regularly report their position/course/speed to UKMTO. Merchant vessels are requested to report any suspicious activity to UKMTO Dubai (+97 1505523215 –ukmto@eim.ae) or IMB PRC (+60 320310014 – imbkl@icc-ccs.org / piracy@icc-ccs.org). Reports can also be relayed to MSCHOA (opscentre@mschoa.org). BABU | 05.05.09 - 8:55 pm | #
All of which tends to support the idea that convoys work - most of the time - but there is still a "golden 15 minutes" in which help must arrive and which are critical to an attack being thwarted or not.

In addition to the warning from the EU, in an email from the Gulf of Aden Group Transits organization:
. . . ship owners need to have heightened awareness between now and the end of the month – in June the SW monsoon winds will come in and they will more or less will stop the piracy until August when I think it will come back with horrendous force and with much better equipped and trained young men

The amount of attacks at night between the now and the end of the month will considerably increase along with dawn attacks.
That pattern is consistent with that noted in my earlier post Winds off Somalia which linked to some UN graphs on pirate attack trends off Somalia:







GOAGT also suggests that shipping move closer to the Yemeni coast. It is my understanding that this previously caused difficulty in transits interfering with legitimate fishing craft and made de-conflicting convoy operations harder.

UPDATE: There is some suggestion that the hijacking took place while the helicopter was being refueled, thus delaying its take off to counter the pirates. . .

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