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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Somali Pirates: Update on latest Hijack

More info on pirate capture of Turkish bulk ship Horizon I here:
Omer Ozgur, from Horizon Shipping, said the Horizon I was continuing on its course despite the hijack.

The pirates have not yet issued any demands or contacted the firm.

Andrew Mwangura, of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme, which works to free ships, said the attack came as a surprise.

"In this season it is hard to take ships because monsoon winds make the seas rough. No-one expected attacks at this time," he told Reuters news agency.

Earlier, Nato spokesman Commander Chris Davies told the BBC's Network Africa programme that pirates in the Gulf of Aden were having less success this year compared with last year.
This report says the pirates paid a price:
Reports from Puntland indicate that two of the five captors on the sea-jacked Turkish bulker MV HORIZON 1 are injured - one of them seriously. Communications indicate that allegedly forces from an Indian naval vessel had taking the boarding sea-shifta under fire - injuring two. If Indian naval forces were involved could so far not be confirmed by officials from the Indian navy. Sure is that two Turkish frigates raced to the area of the attack. Istanbul-based Horizon Shipping had said earlier that only three attackers managed to board the vessel, according to media reports, while NATO spokesman Cmdr. Chris Davies said the Turkish warship Gediz had seen at least four pirates on the deck of the ship, but others may have been out of sight.

The ship was taken in the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor, "which is not good news because that's where the ships are meant to be safer," Cmdr. Davies said to AP. Warships patrol the corridor, where ships are encouraged to travel in groups to help prevent attack. Attacks in the corridor are rare, and a Turkish warship on escort duty was diverted to the scene shortly after the Horizon-1 sounded the alarm. A report from a local Lloyd’s Marine Intelligence Unit correspondent suggests that at the onset of the attack, the master requested urgent assistance by radio. But most navies will not intervene after pirates are on board a ship for fear of harming the hostages.

Several pirate attacks still occur off Somalia's lawless coast each week despite poor weather and the presence of international warships in the Gulf of Aden. Andrew Mwangura, of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme which works to free ships, confirmed the seizure. "In this season it is hard to take ships because monsoon winds make the seas rough. No one expected attacks at this time," he told Reuters news agency.

Turkey's Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim confirmed that Somali pirates boarded the ship, rendered the crew ineffective and took control of the cargo ship. Yildirim told a press conference in Istanbul that the Turkish "TCG Gediz" frigate went to the scene of the attack, however did not intervene in order not to risk the lives of the crew members. Turkish warships have been in the area since last year as part of an
international naval force to crack down on pirates and Somali arms traffickers. The minister said that now two Turkish warships - the frigates "Gediz" and the "Gaziantep" - were closely following the cargo ship, which was en route of Somalia's port of Eyl. The pirates have not yet issued any demands, or contacted the shipping firm. Yildirim said necessary steps would be taken when conditions occurred.

Ömer Özgür of Istanbul-based Horizon Shipping. "According to the information we received, there are three unarmed pirates onboard the ship," Özgür was quoted by Anatolia news agency as saying. "They are holding a meeting with the ship's captain," he added. "There is nothing to worry about. There is no reason to fear for the crew." This statement, however, is controversial.
Horizon I photo from by Andreas Schlatterer. Used in accord with Shipspotting rules.

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