As we go to press we are learning that U.S. Naval forces have allegedly just killed 13 pirates in the Gulf of Aden and taken 6 captive. The pirates were attempting to hijack a ship when the Navy intervened. We will update this as information comes in.
In other news, Somali pirates have given a ten day ultimatum to the government of Somalia to release the ransom money intercepted at the Mogadishu airport recently. The funds were intended to release two ships and although the security company and aircraft operators are respected and known entities in the ransom delivery business the TFG continues to hold the security staff, pilots and aircraft.
There are two dozen pirated ships off the Horn of Africa and over 500 hostages being held and below is a breakdown of some of those vessels and crews.
MV ICEBERG 1
The 14 month ordeal of the MV Iceberg deserves publicity and the pirates who have abused the seaman and families should at some point be held fully accountable for their actions. In addition it is an example of what happens when shipping companies abandon their responsibilities, navies try to mitigate but do not end piracy and governments stand by.
The MV Iceberg is owned by Azal Shipping run by Mr. Yassir Amin. The vessel is a Ro/Ro carrying 4,500 tons of liquid natural gas cylinders, shipped from the oil port in Little Aden run by Aden Refinery Company. She was bound for Jebel Ali in the UAE when hijacked only ten nautical miles out of the port of Aden. The crew consist of persons from Yemen, India, Ghana, Sudan, Pakistan and the Philippines. The story of the MV Iceberg is one of misfortune and amateur tactics on behalf of the pirates who took her.
The pirates originally demanded $10 million dollars which by any standard is unreleastic. This put the negotiation with the Yemeni owner based in Dubai in peril. Predictably the negotiations faltered. The pirates then began contacting and terrorizing the families of crew members in Ghana, Yemen and India and making threats and demand including 48 hour deadlines to kill the crew unless the ransom was paid. A Ghanaian crew member who spoke to Richard Mensah at Citi News;
“After two months of our capture, our provisions got finished and they supplied us with flour, rice and sugar. We are all accommodated in a small cabin and we sleep close to each other, there is a gunman at the window and another at the entrance and before you go out you ask permission at gun point. What we are going through is more than brutality.
“What we receive from them is starvation; in fact the water we drink is very bad. At a point all the water got finished and we had to drink from the drips of the air conditioner. Infact we are going through hell here, what we are going through is more than hell. The pirates say their ransom is ten million dollars but from our point of view even if we give them 400,000 dollars they will take.
“They have given us a 48 hour deadline that if we don’t come up with anything reasonable they will kill some of us and sink the vessel. I am appealing to the Ghanaian authority that they should do something to save our lives because our treatment here is inhuman,” he said.
In October 2010 Yemeni Third Officer, Wagdi Akram jumped overboard and drowned. His body was retained on the ship without proper conditions and the crew was kept below decks for a while. The surviving Yemenis on board are captain Abdulrazag Ali Saleh, engineer Mohamed Abdullah Ali Khan and sailor Ahmed Fayz Bair. All of the officers have been beaten and badly abused according to a eye witness aboard the ship. The terrible story of the MV Iceberg hit the news when international organizations responded to the families desperate pleas for help. Even if to return the body of the the officer.
The ship made news in February of 2011 when pirates reported that the chief engineer died from what is said to be malnutrition and distress according to a pirate spokesperson. In reality the Yemeni national was hustled off the ship and taken to shore by the pirates as witnessed by the Second Engineer Francis Koosom. In April the pirates sent a cel phone video to an Indian news station to force negotiations claiming the murder of the crew member and sickness on board.
After little success, the pirates told the owner not to contact them until he had the ransom. After a lapse of months with no contact around March 1st the owner brought in former TFG defense Minister General Naji to help negotiate. The ransom was reduced to $3 million but the company only counter offered with $300,000. Negotiations were cut off by the pirates.
On Feb 22nd a German naval ship with the designation "F804" came alongside to render aid and remove the cadaver which was being stored in the cold locker without electricity. The ship was was warned off by the pirates.
Swedish filmmaker Neil Bell is finishing an 80 minute documentary on the plight of the MV Iceberg and the pirates for Rabotat films. If the trailer is indicative of the rest of the film it will be riveting. The pirates kept a crew of 33 guards on board but have given up and reduced the guard to six men.
The ship continues to be held off Garacad and is considered to be abandoned by its owner. The financier of the pirates who captured this ship is Mr. Aden Abdirahman Ismail (Aden Sanjab) and the commander of the pirates holding the MV Iceberg is Ayub Yusuf, both of the subclan of Reer-Aden/Omar-Mohamud/Majerten.
In another twist a former Somali translator and a former negotiator who was on board the ship for an extended time both allege that the real owner of the ship is a Yemeni named Saeed Mohamed Qali who is currently held in Guantanamo Bay that Azad operates as a front. Azal Shipping & Cargo P.O. BOX 29400, Dubai, United Arab Emirates Tel: +971-4-2585919 Fax: +971-4-2585929 E-mail: email@example.com , firstname.lastname@example.org
Articles on MV Iceberg
Location of Ships
FV PRANTALAY 12
Taken: April 18, 2010.
The Prantalay 12 was seized along with two sister ships over a year ago. The Prantalay fleet is part of a family owned Thailand-based fishing company that runs a fleet of 14 ships. They export fish worldwide as Union Frozen Products.
The Prantalay 11, 12, and 14 were captured with a total crew of 77. They had been looking for tuna and working from Djibouti. It is not known if the fishing company was operating with a license to fish but they were captured some 1200 nautical miles from the coast of Somali. Well within international waters.
The owners of the fish export company Dr. and Mrs. Thongchai Tavanapong maintained a tough public stance and insisted that the three ships operated by their subsidiary PT Interfisheries together were worth less than $600,000 when the pirates demanded an ambitious $9 million for each ship for a total of $27 million. They did not mention the value of their Thai and Myanmarese crews but the company employs 8,500 people worldwide and is a well established seafood provider with fishing contracts around the world.
The Prantalay 12 was attacked by another pirate gang in May, 2011 in what might have been a clumsy attempt to liberate the ship after a sum of money was paid to a Somalia middleman. The ship remained in pirate custody off the shore of Somalia and the ransom or payoff was never recovered.
Somali pirates are very comfortable operating these class and type of ships and the three ships then began a career of piracy with their commandeered crews. The trio of motherships then made the mistake of hunting prey too close to the shore of India and early 2011 two of the vessels met their end.
The crew of the Prantalay 14 was rescued by Indian naval forces on INS Cankarso on January 28 near the Lakshadweep islands and after a 12 hour gun battle. Sixteen of released crew were from Myanmar and four were Thai nationals. The Prantalay 14 was sent to the bottom of the ocean.
On February 6th, the Prantalay 11 was intercepted by the Indian Navy 100 nautical miles off Kavaratti in Lakshadweep. After a short violent interaction the career of the hijacked fishing ship as a mothership was ended. The pirates had attempted to hijack the Greek merchantman MV Chios around 4pm the day before when the Indian Navy ship "INS Tir" came to its rescue. In addition to the 20 rescued crew, twenty eight pirates were taken off the Prantalay 11 and arrested. The ship was sunk and sent to the bottom.
Owners of the Prantalay 11:
Prantalay/Union Fresh Products 1259, 1094/10 Wichienchodok Road, Mahachai Sub-district, Muang District, Samut Sakhon Province 74000 Tel. 0 3441 1388
Taken: August 2, 2010
The vessel was attacked by three pirate skiffs in the Gulf of Aden. This ship was scheduled to be ransomed and released last week but the US$ 3.6 million ransom money was seized by Mogadishu police at the airport. until they receive the US$ 3.6 million ransom money intercepted by security men at the Mogadishu airport.
Initially the gun men were demanding US$ 5 million ransom to release the vessel and her crew, before scaling down their demands, the diplomatic official said.
The Panama-flagged general cargo ship was hijacked by pirates along with her 23 multi-national crew on 2nd August 2010 in Indian Ocean while under way to Eritrea from Pakistan laden with cement. Her multinational crew is comprised of Egyptians, Indians and Sir Lankan nationals. She is operated by Port Said based Red Sea Navigation Company. The commercial manager of the firm Mr. Mohamed Abdel Meguid told the press early this year that the firm paid a US$ 1.5 million ransom in 2009 to secure the release of her sister-ship the AL MANSOURA and her crew. AL MANSOURA was hijacked by pirates along with her 25 strong Egyptian seafarers in September 2008 The ship was hijacked by 30 gunmen whom demanded ransom as well as the cargo; it is said that she left behind 15,000 tons of cement to the captors.
MV OLIB G
Taken: September 8, 2010
Flag: Panama Crew: 24 IMO: 9299563
Taken: October 30, 2010
The Liberian owned vessel was attacked and boarded at night 667 miles east of Socotra Island, Yemen.
MV YUAN XIANG
IMO: Not registered
Taken: November 12, 2010
The vessel was attacked on the Arabian Sea off Somalia. A 3.6 million dollar ransom intended to free this ship was intercepted in Mogadishu.
The vessel was attacked by pirates November 26, 2010 while underway 293 miles west of the Maldives on the Indian Ocean. All crew are still being held hostage.
MV MSC PANAMA
Taken: December 10, 2010
Hijacking occurred 276 miles south east of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.
Taken: December 20, 2010
The UAE owned vessel was attacked by two pirate skiffs armed with RPG and small arms 460 miles north east of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. Nineteen hostages are still being held on board the ship. MV Orna is operating as a mother ship and confirmed position on 03rd june is 1056N 05738E.
FV SHIUFU FU No.1
IMO: Fishing vessel, not registered
Taken: December 25, 2010
The fishing vessel was attacked in the morning by a pirate skiff 138 miles off the north east tip of Madagascar but there were no further communications from the crew. All 26 crew members are assumed to be hostages.
Taken: January 1, 2011
The vessel was attacked 172 miles south east of the Port of Salalah, Oman.
Taken: January 7, 2011
The vessel was attacked in the Gulf of Aden 563 miles south of the Port of Salalah, Oman by a pirate skiff. All crew members are still being held hostage.
MV HOANG SON SUN
The Vietnamese owned vessel was attacked January 19, 2011 by pirates 598 miles south east of the Port of Muscat, Oman. All crew members are still being held hostage by pirates.
MV KHALED MUHIEDDINE K
Crew: 25 IMO: 8105650
Taken: January 20, 2011
The Syrian owned vessel was attacked in the North Arabian Sea 380 miles south east of the Port of Salalah, Oman. Ransom money amounting to US$ 2.5 million was dropped onto the vessel on 26th May 2011. As of May 29th it is under power traveling at 13 knots at position 12 35 north 04 702 east cruising 270/ 13 knots at 11 50 GMT.
MV SAVINA CAYLYN
Taken: February 8, 2011
The vessel was attacked by pirates 771 miles east of Socotra Island, Yemen. There is no communication and all crew are still being held hostage.
17. MV SININ
Taken: Feburary 12, 2011
The vessel was attacked in the Northern Arabian Sea 402 miles east of Masirah, Oman. All crew members are still being held hostage.
Taken: March 28, 2011
The Kuwaiti owned vessel was attacked by two pirate skiffs while underway 287 miles south east of Salalah, Oman
MV SUSAN K
Flag: Antigua and Barbuda
Taken: April 8, 2011
The German owned vessel was attacked by ten pirates near the Omani coast about 230 miles north east of Salalah, Oman.
MV ROSALIA D’AMATO
Taken: April 21, 2011
The vessel was attacked 402 miles south east of Salalah, Oman.
The Singaporean owned vessel was attacked 207 miles east of Malindi, Kenya. Negotiations for the release of the vessel and her twenty five crew members are ongoing.
Crew: 5 Danish Passengers, 2 Danish Crew members
IMO: 43 foot Pleasure sailing craft, not registered
Taken: February 27, 2011
The small private yacht was hijacked by pirates while on a world tour. The hostages include two crew members, and a family of five including three children age 13 – 17. The 43 foot sailboat was attacked approximately 600 miles east of Somalia in the Indian Ocean. The hostages are being held aboard MV DOVER.
Flag: Yemen Crew: 8
IMO: Fishing vessel, not registered
Taken: February 13, 2011
The vessel was attacked near Socotra Island in the Gulf of Aden.
Taken: February 28, 2011
The Greek owned vessel was attacked while it was 300 miles north east of Salalah, Oman. Negotiations are on the final stages.
FV JELBUT 33
The fishing dhow is currently being used by pirates as mother ship. Last known position (14 may) was 1538N 05816E.