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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Somalia: Captured ship crew "overpowers" pirates, sailing to safety

The crew of a captured ship fights back and gains their freedom, it is reported here:
A group of pirates that hijacked a cargo ship in the waters off Somalia have been overpowered by the ship's crew, according to one official.

The ship's capture was reported on Tuesday morning by the East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme.

But a few hours later, the programme's Andrew Mwangura said the ship's 22 crew had regained control of the vessel.
After Tuesday's hijack, militiamen demanded a $15,000 (£7,250) ransom to free the vessel, said Paddy Ankunda, a spokesman for African Union troops in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

"The hijacking was masterminded by the same people who were supposed to bring it into the dock," he said.

The freighter had apparently unloaded its cargo - thought to have been sugar - by the time of its capture.

Mr Mwangura said the crew were sailing the ship back to Mogadishu after defeating the pirates.
Note that this is not the Japanese owned tanker, but rather a small freighter captured on Tuesday, 30 October.

Report on the capture of this freighter here:
Four other boats -- a Comoros-registered cargo ship, two Tanzanian fishing vessels, and a ship from Taiwan -- are also being held by armed groups.

Without central government since 1991, Somalia's waters have become among the world's most perilous despite calls for international action to patrol them.

Attackers often justify their actions as measures against illegal fishing and toxic dumping.
UPDATE: Older posts which contain discussions of the pirates as enforcers of the Somalia EEZ here, here and here. Again, though, chemical tankers and freighters are not the sorts of ships for which the "fishing patrol" argument hold much water.

UPDATE2: BBC says it was Korean freighter.

UPDATE3: More details on the crew's fight with the pirates from here:
Two pirates were dead and five others were captured after the fight aboard the Dai Hong Dan, the Navy said, citing initial reports from the crew. Three seriously injured crew members were transferred to the destroyer USS James E. Williams,
according to the Navy.

The battle began after the Williams arrived near the Dai Hong Dan and ordered pirates to give up their weapons, the Navy said. At that point, crew members confronted the pirates and regained control of the vessel -- requesting medical assistance from the Navy ship.
Get that? A U.S. Navy ship comes to the aid of mariners in trouble - even when the flag of their ship is that of North Korea. That's the way it should work...

UPDATE4: Navy story:
From U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs

MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- The crew of a North Korean cargo vessel, Dai Hong Dan, regained control of their vessel Oct. 30, after fighting with the pirates who had taken over their ship sometime Monday.

The crew was able to control the steering and engineering spaces of the ship, while the pirates had seized the bridge. The ship is approximately 60 nautical miles northeast of Mogadishu.

Three corpsmen from USS James E. Williams (DDG 95), an Arleigh-Burke-class destroyer operating as part of the maritime coalition, along with a boarding team, provided medical assistance and other support as needed to the crew of the Korean vessel.

Three seriously injured crew members have been transferred to the James E. Williams for treatment. Initial reports from the crew are that five pirates were captured and two are dead. The pirates remain aboard the Dai Hong Dan.

The Combined Maritime Forces Headquarters, based in Bahrain, received a call from the International Maritime Bureau, located in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, Tuesday morning, providing the current status of the Dai Hong Dan. At that time, the James E. Williams was about 50 nautical miles from the vessel and sent a helicopter to investigate the situation. James E. Williams arrived in the vicinity of the Korean ship midday local time and contacted the pirates via bridge-to-bridge radio, ordering them to give up their weapons.

At that point, the Korean crew confronted the pirates and regained control of the ship, and then began communicating with the James. E. Williams, requesting medical assistance. The crew said the pirates had been in control of the bridge, but the crew had retained control of the steering and engineering spaces.

Piracy is an ongoing maritime security and safety issue off the coast of Somalia. The Japanese vessel Golden Nori was pirated in the Gulf of Aden earlier this week, and Coalition ships responded to distress calls. Coalition ships continue to closely monitor the vessel. Four other vessels remain under pirate control off the coast of southern Somalia.

The waters off Somalia and the Horn of Africa are part of the area under the responsibility of CTF 150, one of three task forces under Coalition Maritime Forces, based in Manama, Bahrain.

A key mission of Combined Maritime Forces is conducting Maritime Security Operations (MSO), which help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment and complement the counterterrorism and security efforts in regional nations' littoral waters. Coalition forces also conduct MSO under international maritime conventions to ensure security and safety in international waters so commercial shipping and fishing can occur safely in the region.

The coalition includes representation from Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Pakistan, the U.S. and U.K., as well as other naval forces and personnel from several other nations.

Coalition ships patrol more than 2.5 million square miles of international waters to conduct both integrated and coordinated operations with a common purpose: to preserve the free and secure use of the world's oceans by legitimate mariners.

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