Jih Chun Tsai 68
The hijacked long liner Jih Chun Tsai 68, operating as a mothership by Somali pirates ran into the USS Stephen Groves in the Indian Ocean today and was sunk.
The Taiwanese skipper and three pirates were also killed in an exchange of gunfire. Wu Lai Yu, the captain of the ill fate ship had endured over a year of captivity after being hijacked in March of 2010. What made the violent incident even more depressing was the recent deal struck by pirates and the captains family in Taiwan.
Late in March of last year pirates attacked two Taiwanese fishing vessels southeast of Cape Guardafui off north east Somalia. The Jui Man Fa's crew which consisted of two Taiwanese and 12 Indonesians managed to escape capture but the Jin Chun Tsai 68 with three Taiwanese and 11 Indonesian crew feel prey to the pirates. One Indonesian crew member of the Jui Man Fa was hit in the thigh by a pirate bullet.
Although it could be argued that the Taiwanese were poaching, monetary gain is the real reason. Five other Taiwanese fishing ships have been captured and ransomed by pirates.
The Jih Chun Tsai 68 or 日春財68號 is captained by a Taiwanese and part of a fleet of Taiwanese fishing ships known to poach tuna using long lines in the region.
A ransom was paid for the release of the ship and crew but allegedly intercepted resulting in the lengthy incarceration of the crew. The 27 meter long vessel is registered in Kaohsiung and was owned by the captain.
The other two Chinese sailors on board were rescued.
What happened to the crew?
The story of the Jih Chun Tsai 68, the second longest hijacked ship in captivity, is convoluted. On or about 19th March 2011 10 Indonesian sailors from the Taiwanese Fishing vessel Jih Chun Tsai 68 were exchanged with a USNS Hamilton in a deal to return the body of a Somali pirate from VLCC Irene SL who had been seriously wounded earlier, was then handed to the naval ship for emergency surgery. But the Somali pirate died on the operation table.
The 10 Indonesian crew members of the FV Jih Chun Tsai 68 were taken to US Naval Ship HAMILTON and then they were flown back home. This left behind four crew members...one Indonesian, two Chinese and the Taiwanese master of the vessel abord and held captive.
On or about 24th April 2011 NATO reported that USS Stephen W Groves intercepted the hijacked Kuwaiti tanker Zirku, the Italian bulker Rosalia D’Amato nd the Taiwanese fishing vessel Jin Chun Tsai 688, as well as two unmanned skiffs, about 100 nautical miles off the Somali coast.
“The NATO warship ordered the pirates to cut loose the mother ship Jih Chun Tsai 68 and skiffs,” it said in a statement. “As the pirates did not comply, warning shots were fired, and when they too were ignored, the unmanned skiffs were destroyed.”
As the frigate then moved closer, pirates fired at the naval vessel. The warship then returned fire before moving away “to deescalate the situation and not endanger the innocent hostages on board the pirated ships”.
On or about 12th May 2011 the master of the hijacked Taiwanese fishing vessel Jih Chun Tsai 68 and three pirates were killed and two crew members wounded in a gunfight with the US Naval Ship Stephen W Groves.
A boarding team from the US frigate found the bodies of the master of the fishing vessel Capt. Wu Lai- Yu on the vessel, as well as two wounded seafarers, while the surviving pirates were returned to Somalia.
Chinese diplomatic officials and the Somali translator aboard the ill-fated fishing vessel say that ransom money was paid mid last year via Djibouti but the ship was not released. The pirates had demanded $8 million dollars in ransom but paid a lesser amount to a middleman based in Djibouti. In April another agreement to pay ransom had been reached by the captain's wife. Shocked at the sudden death of her husband after being so close to release, Wu's wife sent a statement on Sunday via Tsai Pao-hsing, secretary-general of the Liouciou Fishery Association, that Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs should help seek compensation from the U.S. T
The ship is registered in Pingtung and Taiwan does not have official diplomatic ties with the United States. 'The Liouciou Fishery Association (929 Liouciou Township, Pingtung County 231, Fuk Cunzhongshanlu, Taiwan, Telephone (08) 861-2512 Fax: (08) 861-3312) represents about 4000 fishermen int the south of the country
Ships currently operating as pirate mother ships are FV Jelbut 33, MV Orno and MV Eagle.