Piracy REPORT:Piracy
Archive: August 2011
Puntland Development Research Center Hosts Workshops
By ABDIKAFAR HOSH 08/28/2011
Pirates Dividing Ransom
Somalia Report
Pirates Dividing Ransom
The Puntland Development and Research Center (PDRC) has organised a series of workshops aimed at creating awareness on the piracy menace among the public, according to officials.

In one of the workshops held recently in Garowe, delegates discussed at length the impact of piracy on business development, economic growth, social behavior and its violations against women's rights.

According to Abdirizak Mohamed Dirir (Du’aysane), the director of Puntland’s anti-piracy agency, the seminar was organized by the PDRC’s office in Garowe and funded by the United Nations office for Somalia (UNPOS) in Nairobi.

“The aim of the meeting was to create public awareness on how to combat piracy and rising insecurity within our borders,” he said.

Participants of the workshop

Participants included Professor Mohamed Said Samatar, Puntland’s assistant minister for Ports and Sea, Abshir Said Sallah, Director of Puntland’s anti-piracy agency, Abdirizak Mohamed Dirir (Du’aysane), Sheikh Ismail Hajji Ali, Sahra Axmed Kooshin from the Ministry for Education in Puntland among other distinguished members of the civil society.

Beginning of the Dialogue

Abdurahman Abdulle Osman (Shuuke) PDRC's General Director officially opened the public forum and briefed the participants.

He said the workshops aimed at creating public awareness on piracy will be held in all regions of Puntland.

He added that his center was determined to educate the public on the negative impacts of piracy and insecurity in general.

“The public workshops will be held around Puntland to create public awareness on piracy and the other acts of insecurity,” he said.

He stated the program would include open discussion sessions from the participants, questions and answers, watching video clips indicating the serious issue of the Somali pirates and their impact to the society, finance and the stability.

The Director of Puntland’s anti-piracy agency, Abdirizak Mohamed Dirir, told participants that the international community was marshaling support to eliminate the piracy menace in the coastal region of Somalia and restore peace and stability in the area.

“We have attended different international conferences to discuss the issue of the Somali pirates and their impact to the development of global business, and we agree on how important the public awareness on piracy is," he said.

The authorities of Puntland are working on concrete plans on how to address the piracy issue, officials said.

Dirir pointed out that most of the delegates who normally took part in the international conferences agreed on the importance of the public awareness on piracy in order to help restore order within the waters of the Red sea and Indian Ocean.

Puntland’s Assistant Minister for Ports and Sea, Abshir Said Sallah, explained how the piracy was impacting on business relations and led to decline in the fishing industry within the region.

Decline in business and increase of cost of living

The Assistant Minister says the acts of piracy have affected the revenue flow in business within and around the region.

“Piracy is not only affecting fishing and commercial vessels passing through the Gulf of Aden in the Red Sea, but it's also contributing to the decline of the revenues in Puntland and increases the costs of living in Puntland,” he said.

Professor Mohamed Said Samatar deeply analyzed the impacts of piracy to the financial markets in Puntland.

“Most businessmen who engage in miraa business and has increased their demand considering the requests coming from the pirates,” he said.

The huge ransom money that the owners of the hijacking ships pay the Somali pirates has increased the cost of petrol and the luxury cars in Bosaso, Puntland’s commercial city, according to the Mohamed Said Samatar, a professor of economics who was attended the workshop.

“In general, if we add the total expenses that we spent on petroleum, luxury vehicles, and chewing Miraa can cost $150 million, which is almost more than three times that of Puntland’s financial budget. What causes that is the ransom money from the piracy,” he said.

Islamic Shariah outlaws the piracy

Most of the Somali people believe the Islamic faith and their ideology clearly outlaws the piracy and income ransom from the hijacking ships, according to Sheikh Isamil Abdi.

“Anyone who has an Islamic faith and believes the Holy Koran is not allowed to hijack a vessel and the people on board to demand ransom for their release,” he said.

Piracy violates rights of women

The piracy violates the rights of women and families in Puntland, according to Sahra Ahmed Kooshin, an education expert and human rights activist, who was part of the Puntland delegation attending the workshop in PDRC center Garowe.

“We can see the responsibilities upon the women in Garowe to eliminate the piracy in the coastline cities, because it affects the way of living and increases the human rights violations, particularly the rights of women in the different parts of the country,” she said.

“A high number of young ladies are traveling to the pirate’s strongholds to make close relationship with the pirates to gain some from the ransom hard cash,” she explained.

The residents of Garowe praised the workshop, saying that such events helped them understand on how to tackle the problem of the piracy issue.

Dr. Daahir Khaliif Guuleed, one of Puntland intellectuals in Bosaso, said the workshops can change the attitudes among the youths in everywhere in Somalia, particularly Puntland’s main cities to perform piracy in the offshore of Somalia.

“All the topics in the workshop are very crucial and those are the realities of piracy, but it needs to double and try to reach the districts neighboring to coastal areas where the Somali pirates are operating,” he told to Somalia Report.

Groups Wrangling Over Ransom Money
By ANDREW MWANGURA 08/27/2011
MV Polar
EU NAVFOR
MV Polar
Heavy gunfire rang out in Hobyo, an ancient harbor city in Somalia's Mudug region, on Saturday morning after two suspected rival pirate groups fell out over ransom money.

Sources said the groups, which had been holding captive the MT Polar, differed over how to share a US$ 7.7 million reportedly paid as the ransom money to secure the release of the merchant's vessel. (Other reports indicated they received $8M.)

One of the groups' leaders Raage Abdi said the fighting broke out after a misunderstanding on how to share the money paid by the ship owner on Friday. The other group is reportedly led by Mohamed Raanbow.

The Somali pirates hijacked MT Polar (also known as MV Polar) on October 30, 2010 with a 24-member crew on board and released on Friday.

Exclusive
Pirates Forced to Move from Habo After Local Protests
By MJ 08/26/2011
Path of Kidnapped Ships
Path of Kidnapped Ships

The Somali pirate groups holding the hijacked MV Dover, its crew, and a Danish family hostage told Somalia Report on Friday evening that they will remain anchored off Rasu Bina village, 15km east of Bargal district in Somalia's Puntland region, until receive the ransom after they were forced to leave Habo (Xaabo) due to local protests.

Mohamed Gani, the commander of the pirates holding the Dover, said Rasu Bina is the only strategic place where they have confidence that they won't be attacked or harassed while they wait for the ransom payment.

The pirate confirmed that the Dover and hostages were anchored off Habo from August 22-25, but moved back to Rasu Bina last night because they did not have any power in the area and the local community protested against them.

Local sources said pirates moved because they couldn't get their deliveries of khat (qat), the drug of choice for the pirates, while in Habo due to the protests.

The pirate also confirmed that the yacht, SV Dynamic 43 ING, belonging to the Danish family is now in the hands of a foreign navy after the cable connecting the vessel to the Dover was cut loose on July 23, 2011 due to monsoon waves.

Rasu Bina Village on the Mountain
Rasu Bina Village on the Mountain

About Rasu Bina Village

Rasu Bina is a small fishing village near the beach and situated beneath local mountains, making it an ideal pirate hub for hijacked ships. The pirates have established a check point at the entrance into the village.

Ise Yulux, the top leader of the pirates, said he has more than 10 armed vehicles with 30-40 militias controlling villages in a Bari Region including Hariiro, Rasu Bina, and Bali Dhidin.

Sh. Abdi Rahman Abdi, a member of the local community in Bargal, told Somalia Report that Rasu Bina is now the biggest pirate base in Puntland and feels the village has now become a town because of all the vehicles and electricity.

Sh. Abdi indicated that the pirates have turned their local market into a drug-based economy, forcing most residents to flee. He called on NATO forces to attack pirates in Rasu Bina and pledge the support of the locals in the fight against pirates.

Last month two local residents were killed in pirate clash.

Somalia Report has been receiving reports that the Danes and Dover are due to be released by the end of this month.

Pirates Seize Tanker as Monsoon Season Nears End
By ANDREW MWANGURA 08/26/2011
Please Credit www.SomaliaReport.com

Weekly Report: Friday August 26, 2011

Somalia Report maintains an extensive search-and-rescue database on hijacked ships, kidnapped crews and land-based hostages. In an effort to clarify the often confusing and deliberately misleading information communicated by pirates we will publish a weekly update with each ship being spotlighted in turn.

Piracy statistics

At least 19 ships (not including the Danish yacht in the list of vessels held) and an estimated 384 seafarers are in the hands of pirates. At least 27 of these hostages, including the Danish hostages and crews from the MT Asphalt Venture and the MV Leopard, as well as two South African sailors, are being held on land or on board other vessels. Bruno Pelizzari and Deborah Calitz were taken off a private sailing yacht in November of last year and are currently being held in southern Somalia.

In 2011 so far, known ransom payments amount to $77.2 million. Another four vessels were released without any estimate being given for ransom payment. Given that the average payment is around $4.5 million, another $18 million could easily be added to the estimated known ransoms paid. Many other vessels were released without ransom or freed by foreign navies.

MT Fairchem Bogey
EU NAVFOR
MT Fairchem Bogey

Weekly Summary

Pirates this week seized their first high value vessel in many months with a daring raid on the MT Fairchem Bogey while the vessel was in anchorage within the Salalah port limit, waiting for berthing instructions from the port authorities after discharging at Al Jubail.

While the Marshall Islands-flagged vessel had armed guards on board when she sailed through the Gulf of Aden on its way to unload, she was unprotected when she was taken by armed pirates on August 20 after dropping the security team off in Oman.

Said Candas, the leader of the group holding the vessel, which is now anchored off Garacad in Mudug region, said his group was asking for a whopping $10 million ransom. Sources within pirates circles told Somalia Report that all 21 Indian crew members of the vessel are unhurt and they are awaiting the arrival of a negotiator for talks with pirates. All crew members of the 25,390dwt tanker are being kept in the wheelhouse, but have been allowed to call relatives and have been provided with food.

The pirates have also allowed the master of the vessel to contact the Mumbai based crewing company, Anglo-Eastern Ship Management, but the company has not yet established direct contact with the captors of the vessel.

Other attacks

The Saudi Arabia-flagged chemical/oil product tanker MT Al Balad also came under pirate attack on August 21, while underway in position 1609 north-05336 east, approximately 85 nautical miles southwest of Salalah, Oman. The Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned container ship MSC Namibia II was also attacked off the coast of Yeman, but it evaded attempts to board.

Weathering the storm

The pirates are expected to resume a high level of operations when the southwest monsoon subsides in September 2011 and the seas become conducive to small boat operations. They are expected to evolve their tactics, techniques, and procedures in an attempt to circumvent defensive measures of commercial shipping and in response to patrolling naval forces.

The pirates will attack targets of opportunity, regardless of their flag, vessel profile, crew composition, or cargo. They will routinely operate in major shipping lanes, to include those off the Indian coast, in the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea, leading into and out of Kenya and Tanzanian territorial waters as well as in the Arabian Sea. Anchorage areas in the region are not exempt from the threat posed by pirates.

They are expected to conduct attacks with skiffs and will operate from shore at great distances with the use of a variety of mother ships including whalers, dhows, commercial fishing vessels, captured merchant ships and livestock carriers.

Death threats

Meanwhile, pirates holding the Algerian-flagged MV Blida vowed to kill the hostages if their demands are not met, according one of the pirates holding the vessel who spoke Somalia Report by phone on Tuesday evening.

“If the vessel's owner will not pay a ransom, we don’t care. We will keep on our duty. We have a negotiation with the owners but we are not pleased about the rate. Our last message is that we will put to death the hostages by a knife if they don’t accept our ransom demands,” said Mohamoud Haji Ismail, the self-declared pirate spokesman, while onboard the vessel, also anchored off Garacad.

The spokesman, was responding to a speech by Algerian Justice Minister Tayeb Belaiz who said that his government wouldn’t pay any ransom.

The MV Blida has a crew of 27 (17 Algerians, 6 Ukrainians, 2 Filipinos, 1 Jordanian and 1 Indonesian) including the master of the vessel who is Ukrainian. The 20,586 ton bulk carrier was hijacked on January 1st of this year approximately 130 nautical miles southeast of Salalah, Oman as she transited to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. She is managed by Sekur Holdings and owned by International Bulk Carriers.

Ismail said the hostages were in poor condition, a statement that will further alarm relatives of the hostages, who have previously demonstrated in Algiers, saying they feared their loved ones would die due to a combination of the fasting month of Ramadan and the famine in Somalia.

MV Dover and Danes

While there has been no movement on the release of the MV Dover and Danish yachting family behind held, we continue to be told that a deal has been struck and their release is in the post. Several new sources have confirmed this information and say that it is a matter of logistics in terms of delivering the money and ensuring the release goes smoothly. We are continuing to monitor the situation, and will update when we have confirmation that the release has taken place.

Hijacked vessel list

SPOTLIGHT:

Asphalt Venture
©Somalia Report
Asphalt Venture

MT Asphalt Venture crew

Pirates holding captive seven former crew members of the MT Asphalt Venture are demanding $1 million to release the hostages.

The seven hostages are being held captive in a remote village 20 kilometers from Harardhere. They are being kept hostage by a pirate group under the leadership of Fathi Gacamey.

The Panama-flagged vessel, a 1991-built asphalt/bitumen tanker was hijacked on September 28, 2010 while under way from Mombasa to Durban, South Africa. She was released on April 15 following a ransom payment amounting to $3.5milion.

Despite the owners concluding a dialogue with the pirates for the full release of 15 crew and vessel, six officers and one rating were taken off the tanker and made to accompany the pirates ashore. Media reports suggested that pirates in Harardhere had taken the decision not to honor the agreement in retaliation for the arrest of Somali pirates by the Indian Navy. Presently India is holding 105 suspected Somali pirates captured over the last two years by the Indian navy.

When the Asphalt Venture docked in Kenya after its release, a Mombasa-based maritime official told Somalia Report, “This is a fundamental change to previous practice and moves the issue from being just between the ship owner and the pirates to being between the pirates and a government.”

“It is a major shift in the pirate-hostage equation which will need to be considered and addressed by the international community," he added.

Since the release, the pirates have increasingly sought money from governments, threatening to kill South Korean hostages if the government of Asian nation did not pay money to compensate for eight Somali pirates killed in February when South Korean commandos stormed the MV Samho Dream and freed 21 hostages.

Pirate sources told Somalia Report Thursday that the Indian hostages are in bad health. Whether this is a negotiating tactic (pirates always claim the hostages are ill and in desperate need of release) or a statement of fact is unclear.

MT Asphalt Venture is owned by the Sharjah-based Bitumen Investments AS and she is managed by Inter Global Shipping Limited of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

MV Olib G

Flag: Malta

Crew: 18

IMO: 8026608

Taken: September 8, 2010

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from June 17 .

MV ICEBERG 1

Flag: Panama

Crew: 24

Taken March 29, 2010

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from June 3.

FV PRANTALAY 12

Flag: Thailand

Crew: 25 (14 of whom have been released, and six of whom were reported to have died of an unspecified illness)

Taken: April 18, 2010.

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from June 3.

MV POLAR

Flag: Panama

Crew: 24

IMO: 9299563

Taken: October 30, 2010

MV ALBEDO

MV Albedo

Flag: Malaysia

Crew: 23

IMO: 9041162

Taken: November 26, 2010

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from July 1.

MV MSC PANAMA

Flag: Liberia

Crew: 23

IMO: 902125

Taken: December 10, 2010

MV ORNA

Flag: Panama

Crew: 19 (18 Syrians and 1 Sri Lankan)

IMO: 8312162

Taken: December 20, 2010

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from July 15.

FV SHIUH FU No.1

Flag: Taiwan

Crew: 26

IMO: Fishing vessel, not registered

Taken: December 25, 2010

The Taiwanese fishing vessel FV SHIUH FU No. 1 was attacked on December 25, 2010 in the morning by a pirate skiff 138 miles off the north east tip of Madagascar.

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from July 22.

MV Blida

MV BLIDA

Flag: Algeria

Crew: 27

IMO: 7705635

Taken: January 1, 2011

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from August 12.

MV EAGLE

Flag: Cyprus

Crew: 24

IMO: 7026508

Taken: January 7, 2011

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from July 29.

MV HOANG SON SUN

Flag: Mongolia

Crew: 24

IMO: 8323862

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.

Crew of the MV Leopard

January 12, 2011

Six crew members (two Danish and four Pinoy) were taken from the MV Leopard t after it was hijacked. The crew disabled the munitions carrying ship and a Turkish naval vessel boarded the ship to find it without crew. It was hijacked 200 miles off of Oman after dropping off its security crew. The crew members are being held on land and being ransomed with no clear resolution in sight.

For more information and background, please see our piracy report from July 8.

MV SAVINA CAYLYN

Flag: Italy

Crew: 22

IMO: 9489285

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.

FV ALFARDOUS

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.

SY ING

Flag: Denmark

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 sailboat was attacked approximately 600 miles east of Somalia in the Indian Ocean. The hostages are being held aboard MV Dover.

MV DOVER

Flag: Panama

Crew: 20

IMO: 7433634

Taken: February 28, 2011

The Greek-owned vessel was attacked while it was 300 miles north east of Salalah, Oman.

Rosalie D'Amata

MV ROSALIA D’AMATO

Flag: Italy

Crew: 21

IMO: 9225201

Taken: April 21, 2011

The vessel was attacked 402 miles south east of Salalah, Oman.

For more information and background, please see our piracy report from August 5.

MT GEMINI

Flag: Singapore

Crew: 25

IMO: 8412352

Taken: April 30, 2011

For more information and background, please see our piracy report from August 19.

MT FAIRCHEM BOGEY

Flag: Marshall Islands

Crew: 21

IMO: 9423750

Taken: August 20, 2011

FV JELBUT 33

The fishing dhow is currently being used by pirates as mother ship.

FV JELBUT 31

The fishing dhow was on June 10 disrupted by a German warship, which destroyed its skiffs and forced the mother ship to return to Somalia. The origin of the vessel is unknown, but EU NAVFOR believes it has eight hostages on board.

Send your tips to info@somaliareport.com

This list is compiled from various sources, including pirates, ship owners, maritime officials, anti-piracy groups, local communities, EU NAVFOR, NATO, and Ecoterra Intl.

Exclusive
Pirates Demand $7M for MV Blida Held Since January 1, 2011
By JAMA DEPERANI 08/23/2011
MV Blida

Somali pirates holding the Algerian-flagged MV Blida demanded $7 million in ransom and vowed to kill the hostages if their demands are not met, according one of the pirates holding the vessel who spoke Somalia Report by phone on Tuesday evening.

“We are demanding $7 million for a ransom,” said Mohamoud Haji Ismail, the self-declared pirate spokesman, while on-board the vessel which is anchored off Garacad in Mudug region of Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland.

The spokesman, responding to a speech by Algerian Justice Minister Tayeb Belaiz who claimed that his government wouldn’t pay any ransom, vowed revenge.

“If the vessel's owner will not pay a ransom, we don’t care. We will keep on our duty. We have a negotiation with the owners but we are not pleased about the rate. Our last message is that we will put to death the hostages by a knife if they don’t accept our ransom demands,” said the spokesman angrily.

When our correspondent asked about the health of the hostages, Ismail said they were in poor condition and that, “they are at risk because most of them are elders. There is food shortage."

The MV Blida has a crew of 27 (17 Algerians, 6 Ukrainians, 2 Filipinos, 1 Jordanian and 1 Indonesian) including the master of the vessel who is Ukrainian.

In a strange twist, the pirate spokesman could not explain what the vessel was carrying (reportedly clinker) despite the fact the ship has been held for nearly eight months, and seemed to evade the most simple questions. His focus was the ransom, not the details.

The 20,586 ton bulk carrier was hijacked on January 1st of this year approximately 130 nautical miles southeast of Salalah, Oman as she transited to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

She is managed by Sekur Holdings and owned by International Bulk Carriers.

For a full report on the MV Blida, see our spotlight article here.

UPDATE
Pirates Say Crew Safe on Hijacked Oil Tanker
By ANDREW MWANGURA 08/23/2011
MT Fairchem Bogey
EU NAVFOR
MT Fairchem Bogey

UPDATE: Said Candas, the pirate leader of the group holding the MT Fairchem Bogey, said they are demanding $10 million ransom for the vessel and crew.

The Marshall Islands flagged chemical oil product tanker, MT Fairchem Bogey, has safely anchored off Garacad in Somalia's Mudug region after it was hijacked by Somalia pirates on August 20th near Oman's port of Salalah.

Sources within pirates circles told Somalia Report that all 21 crew members of the vessel are unhurt and they are awaiting the arrival of a negotiator for talks with pirates.

All crew members of the 25,390dwt tanker are being kept in the wheelhouse, but have been allowed to call relatives and have been provided with food, according to the sources.

The pirates have also allowed the master of the vessel to contact the Mumbai based crewing company, Anglo-Eastern Ship Management, but the company has not yet established direct contact with the captors of the vessel.

When hijacked, MT Fairchem Bogey was in an anchorage within the Salalah port limit waiting for berthing instructions from the port authorities after discharging at Al Jubail.

She had armed guards on board when she sailed through the Gulf of Aden on its way to unload at the Saudi port of Al Jubail on August 18, but was unprotected when she was taken by armed pirates on August 20 after dropping the security team off in Oman.

The Saudi Arabia flagged chemical/oil product tanker MT Al Balad also came under pirate attack on August 21st while underway in position 1609north-05336east approximately 85 nautical miles southwest of Salalah, Oman.

Heavily armed pirates also attempted to hijack the Liberian flagged Greek owned container ship MSC Namibia II while underway in position 1308north-04911east on August 23 some 100 nautical miles south of Mukalla, Yemen but the vessel managed to evade the pirate attack.

Breaking News
The Marshall Islands-Flagged Vessel Has Indian Crew on Board
By ANDREW MWANGURA 08/20/2011
Suspected Somali pirates have hijacked a Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker with a 22 Indian member crew on board, military sources said on Saturday.

The MT FAIRCHEM BOGEY was seized at around 0150Z on Saturday, in position 1654North-05403East, approximately 6 nautical miles south of Salalah, Oman.

"This is very strange and it shows how daring and capable the pirates are by taking a ship just within the sea port of Salalah," a source said.

AIS data of the vessel indicates that she was taken by armed pirates while underway from Egypt to Oman.

The 25,390 dwt chemical oil product tanker is owned by the Singapore-based EURUS Maritime Carriers and managed by Fair Fields Chemical Carriers of USA.

One Vessel Released, Danes and MV Dover Set to Be Next
By ANDREW MWANGURA 08/19/2011
Please Credit www.SomaliaReport.com

Weekly Report: Friday August 19, 2011

Somalia Report maintains an extensive search-and-rescue database on hijacked ships, kidnapped crews and land-based hostages. In an effort to clarify the often confusing and deliberately misleading information communicated by pirates we will publish a weekly update with each ship being spotlighted in turn.

Piracy statistics

At least 18 ships (not including the Danish yacht in the list of vessels held) and an estimated 363 seafarers are in the hands of pirates. At least 27 of these hostages, including the Danish hostages and crews from the MT Asphalt Venture and the MV Leopard, as well as two South African sailors, are being held on land or on board other vessels. Bruno Pelizzari and Deborah Calitz were taken off a private sailing yacht in November of last year and are currently being held in southern Somalia.

In 2011 so far, known ransom payments amount to $77.2 million. Another four vessels were released without any estimate being given for ransom payment. Given that the average payment is around $4.5 million, another $18 million could easily be added to the estimated known ransoms paid. Many other vessels were released without ransom or freed by foreign navies.

Weekly Summary

The long period of pirate inactivity is set to draw to a close, as the monsoon season nears its end. While attacks have yet to pick up again, the reappearance of hundreds of refugees in Puntland coastal towns looking for human traffickers to take them across the Gulf of Aden indicates that calmer waters, and therefore more attempts to seize merchant vessels, are imminent.

Attacks

According to NATO, there have been only two confirmed attacks in August. This figure is less than the reports that have been coming in, but NATO’s anti-piracy mission says it is skeptical about many such incidents, particularly those saying ‘swarms’ of skiffs attacked merchant vessels. The last pirate attack reported by NATO came on the MT Gas Pride a week ago, but the vessel managed to evade the skiffs through evasive maneuvers.

However, Neptune Maritime Security, which was first to raise the idea of pirates hunting in packs, pointed to an attack reported by the IMB on Thursday as further evidence of a new trend. The IMB report said seven boats with three to five men in each boat approached a bulk carrier, which managed to escape the attack.

Releases

The Maltese-flagged bulk carrier MV SININ, which was attacked in February in the northern Arabian sea, was set free for a reported ransom of $4 million, while it looks like the MV Dover and the Danish family taken while sailing around the world are expected to be released at some point over the next week or so.

Multiple sources have told Somalia Report that the Danes and the ship will be released in a package deal before the end of Ramadan, which wraps up on August 29.

While the amount of ransom money paid varies depending on to whom our journalists spoke, all of the sources agreed that a deal had been struck and a release was imminent.

The Danish family of five, their two crew members and their 43-foot sailboat, the SY Ing, were seized on February 24.

New pirate groups

Fighting between pirate groups continued again this week in a growing trend that Somalia Report understands has been prompted by a growing number of investors and pirate groups trying to muscle in on the multimillion-dollar trade. The market is growing ever more crowded at a time when few ships are being seized, reportedly leading to tensions. Our correspondents are digging further into this issue, and we will shortly publish our findings.

Bruno Pelizzari and Debbie Calitz

Clemency plea

The family of the South African yachting couple, Bruno Pelizzari and Deborah Calitz, this week turned to Somalia Report to publish an appeal for the release of the unfortunate duo.

Their yacht, the Choizil, was seized in October last year, and while it was eventually recovered, the couple was taken to shore. The pirates initially asked for $10 million, although they were persuaded to cut their demand to $500,000. Yet this is still far out of the reach of the family members.

Hijacked vessel list

Korean Hostages on the MT Gemini
©Somalia Report
Korean Hostages on the MT Gemini

SPOTLIGHT:

MT GEMINI

Flag: Singapore

Crew: 25

IMO: 8412352

Taken: April 30, 2011

Gunmen holding the Singapore-flagged and -owned chemical oil product tanker are demanding $5 million to release the vessel and her 25 multi-national crew. Under the leadership of Mohamud Gacayl, the pirates are holding the ship and her 25 crew members in a small coastal town.

The pirates said negotiations are going on, but they are not happy with the offer of $3 million from the owners. A diplomatic official at the Indonesian Embassy in Nairobi told Somalia Report that the ship operators are working to secure the release of the crew and the vessel. He said that the pirates have allowed some of the crew members to call their friends, relatives and family members back home. However, some of the crew are believed to be suffering from malaria.

In July, the gunmen asked to swap five Somali prisoners in Korea with four Korean crew members of the vessel, but the South Korean authorities declined to play ball. They also threatened to kill the Korean seamen if they did not receive compensation for eight Somali pirates killed in February when South Korean commandos stormed the MV Samho Dream and freed 21 hostages.

The pirates, in a failed attempt to squeeze money out of the South Korean government, approached the media, delivering pictures and allowing journalists to speak to the crew.

The 29,870-dwt Singapore-owned tanker was attacked 207 miles east of Malindi, Kenya laden with 21,000 tons of cooking oil on April 30. There are four Koreans, 13 Indonesians, five Chinese and three Myanmar citizens on the vessel.

She is managed by Glory Ship Management PTE Limited of Singapore, while her owners are Singapore-based Golden Spring Line.

Glory Ship Management PTE Limited can be found at:

Suntec Tower Two #38-03

9 Temasek Boulevard

(S)038989

+ 6565361986

MV OLIB G

Flag: Malta

Crew: 18

IMO: 8026608

Taken: September 8, 2010

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from June 17 .

MV ICEBERG 1

Flag: Panama

Crew: 24

Taken March 29, 2010

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from June 3.

FV PRANTALAY 12

Flag: Thailand

Crew: 25 (14 of whom have been released, and six of whom were reported to have died of an unspecified illness)

Taken: April 18, 2010.

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from June 3.

MV POLAR

Flag: Panama

Crew: 24

IMO: 9299563

Taken: October 30, 2010

MV ALBEDO

MV Albedo

Flag: Malaysia

Crew: 23

IMO: 9041162

Taken: November 26, 2010

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from July 1.

MV MSC PANAMA

Flag: Liberia

Crew: 23

IMO: 902125

Taken: December 10, 2010

MV ORNA

Flag: Panama

Crew: 19 (18 Syrians and 1 Sri Lankan)

IMO: 8312162

Taken: December 20, 2010

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from July 15.

FV SHIUH FU No.1

Flag: Taiwan

Crew: 26

IMO: Fishing vessel, not registered

Taken: December 25, 2010

The Taiwanese fishing vessel FV SHIUH FU No. 1 was attacked on December 25, 2010 in the morning by a pirate skiff 138 miles off the north east tip of Madagascar.

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from July 22.

MV Blida

MV BLIDA

Flag: Algeria

Crew: 27

IMO: 7705635

Taken: January 1, 2011

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from August 12.

MV EAGLE

Flag: Cyprus

Crew: 24

IMO: 7026508

Taken: January 7, 2011

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from July 29.

MV HOANG SON SUN

Flag: Mongolia

Crew: 24

IMO: 8323862

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.

Crew of the MV Leopard

January 12, 2011

Six crew members (two Danish and four Pinoy) were taken from the MV Leopard t after it was hijacked. The crew disabled the munitions carrying ship and a Turkish naval vessel boarded the ship to find it without crew. It was hijacked 200 miles off of Oman after dropping off its security crew. The crew members are being held on land and being ransomed with no clear resolution in sight.

For more information and background, please see our piracy report from July 8.

MV SAVINA CAYLYN

Flag: Italy

Crew: 22

IMO: 9489285

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.

FV ALFARDOUS

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.

SY ING

Flag: Denmark

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 sailboat was attacked approximately 600 miles east of Somalia in the Indian Ocean. The hostages are being held aboard MV Dover.

MV DOVER

Flag: Panama

Crew: 20

IMO: 7433634

Taken: February 28, 2011

The Greek-owned vessel was attacked while it was 300 miles north east of Salalah, Oman.

Rosalie D'Amata

MV ROSALIA D’AMATO

Flag: Italy

Crew: 21

IMO: 9225201

Taken: April 21, 2011

The vessel was attacked 402 miles south east of Salalah, Oman.

For more information and background, please see our piracy report from August 5.

FV JELBUT 33

The fishing dhow is currently being used by pirates as mother ship.

FV JELBUT 31

The fishing dhow was on June 10 disrupted by a German warship, which destroyed its skiffs and forced the mother ship to return to Somalia. The origin of the vessel is unknown, but EU NAVFOR believes it has eight hostages on board.

Send your tips to info@somaliareport.com

This list is compiled from various sources, including pirates, ship owners, maritime officials, anti-piracy groups, local communities, EU NAVFOR, NATO, and Ecoterra Intl.

Crew Dispute Accounts of Hijacking and Smuggling, Blames Mechanical Problems
By ANDREW MWANGURA 08/17/2011

After reports the MV Nafis 1 was seized by pirates, the Indian Navy boarded the vessel approximately 200 nautical miles off Mumbai on Sunday and found nine crew members (five Yemenis, two Tanzanians, one Kenyan and one Somali national) safely on board who said they had not been hijacked.

International and local media suggested the vessel was hijacked by nine heavily pirates one month ago as it was being used as part of a smuggling operation intending to take weapons to al-Qaida in Yemen.

However, an Indian defense spokesman said that the crew reported that the vessel suffered from mechanical problems and was adrift for 20 days, not hijacked, which explains the long journey time from Chabahar to where she was intercepted off Mumbai. In addition, there don’t appear to be any media reports from this time she was reportedly hijacked.

Her AIS data indicates that she sailed from port Chabahar, Iran transiting the Straits of Hormuz East bound in July.

Usually merchant ships alert the closest maritime rescue coordination center in case of mechanical problems. But, despite rough weather the crew members on board did not alert any of the rescue centers in the region making this a curious case.

The destination of the vessel remains clear, but various press agencies reported she was headed to Yemen and carrying arms to al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. The Indian Navy, however, did not find any substantial weapons caches. Only two AK-47 rifles and a pistol were recovered from a fuel tank on board the ship which means they were not carrying the weapons, the weapons were thrown overboard or transferred to another vessel.

Currently the vessel is at Porbander in Gujarat under the control of the Indian Navy.

The registered owner and operator of the vessel is an individual known as Mohammad Molaei.

The 500–dwt MV Nafis 1 was intercepted 170 nautical miles west of Mumbai on Sunday while underway from Cha Bahar, Iran heading to unknown destination.

Bruno Pelizzari and Deborah Calitz Held Since October 2010
08/17/2011
Bruno Pelizzari and Debbie Calitz
Vera Hecht
Bruno Pelizzari and Debbie Calitz

South African couple Bruno Pelizzari and Deborah Calitz have been held by Somali pirates since October 2010. Bruno's sister Vera Hecht, writing for Somalia Report, has issued this plea for clemency for both the couple and their families, who cannot afford to pay the ransom money being demanded.

Last year a basic yacht, the Choizil set out from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to Richards Bay, South Africa for some repairs. On October 26, 2010 the South African yacht was hijacked by pirates as it was about to enter the Madagascar / Mozambique Channel.

The pirates changed their course northbound and when the Choizil was close to the Somali coastline, a naval vessel attempted to assist, but kept its distance, for fear of hostages being harmed. The yacht was then beached and the two crew members, Bruno Pelizzari and Deborah Calitz, were taken ashore. Peter Eldridge, the skipper, refused to leave his vessel and was later rescued. However, Bruno and Deborah remain in captivity.

Unlike the huge ships that the pirates are familiar with, for which they receive enormous ransoms, there is no money to be had for the lives of these two important members of our families. Huge sums of money have been asked for from the families. The pirates initially demanded $10 million dollars, a figure which was then dropped to $500,000. We simply do not have these kind of funds available.

We have been offered support and help with the negotiations by members of the Somali Community Board of South Africa, but the pirates have so far rejected the offered sums of money, which of course are in huge contrast to the millions of dollars merchant vessels are expected to fetch in the pirate trade.

Calvin, Bruno's Grandson
Vera Hecht
Calvin, Bruno's Grandson
The pirates are holding two simple individuals - no ship, no cargo, no insurance, no value to the rest of the world. But these two people are our beloved family members, who have already lost over nine months of their lives to captivity.

As Somalia Report’s Maritime Editor Andrew Mwangura told a South African newspaper, local community and religious leaders had instructed the pirates to release the couple unconditionally.

Dominic, Debbie's Grandson
Vera Hecht
Dominic, Debbie's Grandson

“They are currently taking good care of them, but when there is no ship or cargo, there is no insurance,” he said. “So the pirates have been told to release them, but obviously they still have not. There are logistical issues, as, if they do get released, they would need to fly them to Nairobi and then to South Africa.”

Bruno is the only son of six children, he is a father of two sons and has a grandson that he was on his way to meet for the first time in November last year. Debbie has two brothers, three daughters and a son. She too has a grandson that she was to meet for the first time and has another granddaughter on the way.

These two South Africans are people of Africa, and are innocent of any offence to their brothers and sisters of Somalia. We ask the pirates holding them, al-Shabaab and all Somalia to show humanity and release our family.

South Africa, through Gift of the Givers and others, have been and are assisting Somalia with aid in its famine crisis and saving countless lives. With this act of good faith shown by South Africa taken into consideration, we, the families of the "two little people", are pleading for an act of compassion from the pirates, by releasing our two beloved family members. Please we beg you to restore faith by releasing the innocent seafarers being held.

Increase in Conflict Could be Due to Shifting Alliances
By AK 08/16/2011
A Somali pirate in Hobyo
©Somalia Report
A Somali pirate in Hobyo

One person died and three others sustained injuries during heavy fighting within a group of pirates in Hobyo district, Mudug region, on Tuesday morning, residents said.

Residents say a bystander Ali Ahmed Ali, who had just left mosque, died in the crossfire, and that a pirate and two other residents sustained injuries. The fighting between pirates started when one of them tried to seize the AK47 of another, according to Hobyo residents.

Misunderstandings between Somali pirates have increased over the last few weeks, with armed confrontations becoming more frequent. Some sources believe conflicts are on the rise as pirates try to build new alliances in face of increasing resistance from onboard security teams. There have been few successful attacks over the last few months due to both the weather and armed guards on vessels.

After one recent attack on a vessel, a maritime security company warned that pirates were beginning to hunt in packs.

Coastal communities are sick of the pirates, loathing both their debauched lifestyles and the conflicts that often affect local residents.

UPDATE
Hostages and Ship to be Released by the End of August
By MJ , ANDREW MWANGURA 08/14/2011
Danish Hostages are being held on the MV Dover
EU NAVFOR
Danish Hostages are being held on the MV Dover

UPDATE as of August 17th at 19:45 local time: Somalia Report just spoke to a pirate named Abdi who said they agreed to accept $4M for both the Danish family and the MV Dover. Abdi said they are moving the ship and hostages from Rasu Bina village to an undisclosed area so that they can accept the ransom. The pirate also said the hostages and ship will be released by the end of Ramadan, but said it could be as sooner. (Ramadan is due to end around August 29th.)

MV Dover, the Panaman-flagged, Greek-owned vessel and the Danish family taken while sailing around the world are expected to be released by Somali pirates in the course of next week, a pirate onboard confirmed.

The Danish family of five, their two crew members and their 43-foot sailboat, the SY Ing, were seized by Somali pirates on February 24th, 2011.

Sources close to the pirates confirmed that pirate investors have finally struck a deal with the owners of the Dover and Danes family members, and after long discussions the pirate group agreed to accept $3 million as a ransom for the release of the Danes and $4 million for the release of the vessel and her 23 crew members.

The pirate who spoke to Somalia Report said the ship and the hostages will be released in the course of next week. He said they (the ship and the Danish family) would be released on separate days. He added that they are now preparing for the receipt of the money.

Possible hijack

Elsewhere, it is feared that pirates have hijacked a vessel with 21 to 23 hostages on board.

Pirate sources told Somalia Report that the vessel and the hostages, some of them believed to be British and Pakistani citizens, are currently near the coastal town of Xindawaco, Somalia. The pirate source said that the vessel arrived on the Somali coast early Sunday.

A diplomatic official at the British High Commission in Nairobi told Somalia Report that the mission was aware of the report, and was investigating to see if there was any truth to it.

Path of Kidnapped Ships
Path of Kidnapped Ships

Ship Owner Reportedly Paid $ 4 Million In Ransom Money
By ANDREW MWANGURA 08/14/2011
The Maltese-flagged bulk carrier MV SININ, which was attacked in February by suspected pirates in the northern Arabian sea, has been freed and is reportedly on its way to Colombo, Sri Lanka, sources have said.

The pirates’ group leader, who could only be named as Gurey told Somalia Report late on Saturday that the group had demanded a ransom amounting US$5million but that the vessel's owner had paid them some US$4million ransom money to release the ship and her crew.

He said all the 23 crewmembers were safe and that they had enough bunkers and stores to enable them reach the second port of call.

Gurey said the ship owner had supplied the vessel with enough ship stores, fuel and security for the vessel, before leaving Somalia on Saturday evening.

A diplomatic source at the Indian High Commission in Nairobi confirmed that MV SININ had been set free and that she was currently steaming out to safe waters.

MV SININ was hijacked by pirates on 12 February 2011 at 1931UTC in position 19:26North-063:29East some 350 nautical miles East of Masirah (Oman) in the North Arabian Sea.

The 52,466 dwt bulk carrier was taken by pirates while enroute to Singapore from Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

She is owned by Tehran based ISIM SININ Limited while she is managed by Iranohind Shipping Company Limited of Tehran, Iran.

Negotiations to secure the release of the vessel and her 23 crew were finalized on Wednesday but she started sailing out of Somalia on Saturday evening soon after the gun men received the ransom money.

Diplomatic sources told Somalia Report that MV SININ is expected to dock Sir Lanka in the next five days.

Meanwhile, a Liberian-flagged Greek-owned LPG Tanker MT GAS PRIDE came under pirate attack on Friday afternoon while under way some 135 nautical miles north of Bab El Mandeb in Red Sea.

MT GAS PRIDE was attacked by seven heavily-armed pirates on while she was sailing to Fujairah from Suez.

The pirates fired and boarded the vessel but abandoned the LPG Tanker when the crew members went into a citadel.

The crew members include 2 Ukrainian nationals, 14 Filipinos and a Latvian.

Still No Successful Attacks, But Fears of Tactical Changes
By ANDREW MWANGURA 08/12/2011
Please Credit www.SomaliaReport.com

Weekly Report: Friday August 12, 2011

Somalia Report maintains an extensive search-and-rescue database on hijacked ships, kidnapped crews and land-based hostages. In an effort to clarify the often confusing and deliberately misleading information communicated by pirates we will publish a weekly update with each ship being spotlighted in turn.

Piracy statistics

At least 19 ships (not including the Danish yacht in the list of vessels held) and an estimated 386 seafarers are in the hands of pirates. At least 27 of these hostages, including the Danish hostages and crews from the MT Asphalt Venture and the MV Leopard, as well as two South African sailors, are being held on land or on board other vessels. Bruno Pelizzari and Deborah Calitz were taken off a private sailing yacht in November of last year and are currently being held in southern Somalia. The Durban couple is being ransomed for $5 million dollars. Many other ocean-going vessels were released without ransom or freed by foreign navies.

Weekly Summary

The long dry spell experienced by Somali pirates continued this week, with the three attacks listed by NATO once again failing to secure a vessel for ransom in what is becoming a familiar pattern. A combination of monsoon weather, on board security detachments and naval intervention has ensured that since the seizure of the MT Gemini on May 30, only the MT Jubba XX (which was quickly released for a pittance) and a small vessel carrying livestock, once again swiftly set free, have been taken.

This week Somalia Report has also received reports from numerous sources that several ransom negotiations are close to conclusion, meaning there could be cluster of releases in the coming days. However, for fear of prejudicing the process, we will not publish any information until the deals have been concluded and the hostages and vessels are free.

Attacks

NATO listed three attacks, one on Thursday, one on Tuesday and one on Saturday. All were relatively close to Somalia, in the Red Sea or Gulf of Aden, reflecting the continuing inability of pirate mother ships to venture further out to sea in search of prey due to inclement weather.

According to the master of the German-owned MV Vogebulker, Myo Min Aung, twelve skiffs with eight armed pirates in each boat approached the bulk carrier some 20 nautical miles north east of Assab, Eritrea. In a statement dated August 6, the master said the four-member British security team on board fired warning shots, chasing away all but two of the skiffs. The remaining vessels ignored warning flares and continued to pursue the bulker, resulting in a fire fight that went on for around 30 minutes before the pirates eventually got the message and backed off. It was the second time the MV Vogelbulker had evaded pirate attack, last facing boarding attempts in early March.

Later in the week, a security team on the MV Greta deterred heavily armed pirates in the Gulf of Aden by firing warning shots, while a similar picture was presented on Thursday, when another vessel came under attack in the Red Sea near Eritrea.

Pack mentality

Concerns over on board security teams leading to an escalation in violence have been well-documented, and the incident around the MV Vogelbulker could be the first signs of such a development.

The pirates were particularly numerous and persistent, and according to Neptune Maritime Security, this could signal the beginning of pirates hunting in packs – although the company chose to highlight that it was the presence of the security team that thwarted the attack.

“What marks this attack out for special attention, and the reason it should be of particular concern to all shipping companies and members of the maritime community is that in this instance, it would appear the pirates attacked in large numbers, en masse,” Neptune Maritime Security said.

“Whether this represents a genuinely new approach to tactics by pirates is as yet unknown,” the company added. “What is clear, however, is that only the presence of an armed security detail on board the bulk carrier ensured its continued safe passage and the safety of its crew and cargo.”

MV Leopard death

Somalia Report this week was also informed that a Filipino sailor from the MV Leopard was killed during the boarding of the vessel on January 12.

The crew has been kept on land since the ship was disabled, forcing the pirates to abandon the vessel and its valuable cargo of munitions. Our interest was piqued when we saw in a video released by the pirates, in which the upset seamen begged for their release, that only five of the crew of six were visible – two Danes and three Filipinos.

Somalia Report had been consistently demanding the status of the missing sailor since April and has finally received a response from the pirates. The only constant factor in the three different accounts of the attack was that the seaman was killed. According to the pirate group holding the vessel, the US Navy killed the seamen when it opened fire during the hijack. However, there are no facts to support this. Another pirate group said that the seaman was shot by the boarding party and his body left behind on the MV Leopard to delay an approaching navy vessel.

The best source for what happened to the missing crew member comes directly from Chilean-born Danish citizen, Eddie Lopez, the 47-year-old captain of the MV Leopard. The July 14 video gives his version of the attack that led to the death of the crew member. He described two skiffs overtaking the MV Leopard and coming along each side. The 10 knot MV Leopard could not outrun the skiffs so Lopez began to make evasive maneuvers. The pirates then began shooting up at the windows in the wheel house three stories above the bucking ocean, sending bullets ricocheting through the steel structure and nearly hitting the captain in the head and splattering his face with flying glass.

When the captain noticed "one of his crew was down", he then ordered the remaining survivors to the engine room to lock themselves in what is called the "citadel". It is not known exactly what happened but the pirates were able to breach the citadel. The captain then oddly said that "the crew is all together". The missing crew member has never been seen in the video or previous photos.

Death probe

On the subject of crew members killed during hijackings, a US investigation into the death of a Taiwanese captain during a NATO anti-piracy operation off Somalia in May found that the hostage Captain Wu Lai-yu “was killed inadvertently by ordnance”. The deceased was the master of the fishing vessel JIH Chun Tsai 68, which was hijacked by Somali pirates off the eastern coast of Africa on 30 March 2010 and then used as a pirate mother ship.

Wu Lai-yu died on 10 May 2011 during a NATO anti-piracy operation, which employed ordnance to force the vessel to stop, release the hostages and surrender their weapons. The pirates returned fire with AK47s before they surrendered. The naval boarding party found Wu dead in his sleeping quarters. He was buried with due ceremony at sea in his vessel, which was then sunk, as it was unseaworthy after the operation.

Shoot 'em up

Finally, in what is becoming a regular occurrence, pirates once again killed each other in a gunfight.

At least two people were killed and four others were injured as two pirate groups fired at each other in Hobyo district of Mudug region on Wednesday morning. Witnesses told Somalia Report that “fully armed pirates started arguing for unknown reasons and then started firing guns at each other.”

Hijacked vessel list

SPOTLIGHT:

MV Blida

MV BLIDA

Flag: Algeria

Crew: 27

IMO: 7705635

Taken: January 1, 2011

Pirates holding captive the Algerian-flagged MV BLIDA are demanding $6 million ransom money to release the vessel and her multi-national crew, according to sources close to the pirates.

The sources further told Somalia Report Sunday afternoon that the vessel is being held captive by the Saad pirate group under the leadership of Abdulrazak Sanwein, and she is running short of fresh water, fuel and ship stores.

An Algerian diplomatic official in Nairobi, Kenya told Somalia Report that talks to secure the release of the vessel are being carried out by a Jordanian charterer and a Greek shipping company linked to the Algiers-based owners of the vessel, International Bulk Carriers (IBC).

The general manager of IBC confirmed that the talks to secure the release of the MV BLIDA are continuing. He said that IBC is in regular contact with the crew through the charterer of the vessel, although it is not in direct contact with the captors.

He said that the 17 Algerian hostages are in contact with their friends, relatives and family members in Algeria. According to the relatives of the hostages, the situation aboard the vessel is very bad.

The relatives of the hostages have grown desperate enough to demonstrate in Algiers, saying they feared their loved ones would die due to a combination of the fasting month of Ramadan and the famine in Somalia.

"When we last spoke with them by telephone, on July 9, they told us that they would do the fast whatever the conditions of their detention," the brother of one of the captives, Abdelkader Achour, told AFP news agency last week. "With their being fed, when they are, with pasta and dirty water, I fear that they will return them to us in coffins.”

Reports that one of the Algerian sailors had died were false, Algeria’s foreign ministry said.

The vessel was attacked on January 1, 2011 approximately 130 miles south east of the Port of Salalah, Oman.The 20586 dwt bulker was on her way to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from Salalah in Oman at the time of the attack and she is laden with a cargo of cement clinker.

Crew members of the vessel are comprised of 17 Algerians, 6 Ukrainians, 2 Filipinos, 1 Jordanian and 1 Indonesian national. The master of the vessel is Ukrainian.

The ship manager of the vessel is the Greece-based Sekur Holdings Inc., while her registered owner is International Bulk Carriers of Algeria, a subsidiary of the Algerian National Company of Navigation (Compangnie Nationale de Navigation).

The Piraeus-based Sekur holdings can be reached on telephone at + 302104594100

International Bulk Carriers can be reached at:

Tel: + 21321521323

Fax:+ 213 21 52 11 53

Rue Sidi,

Okba 32,

Belle Vue,

El Harach Algiers,

Algeria.

MV OLIB G

Flag: Malta

Crew: 18

IMO: 8026608

Taken: September 8, 2010

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from June 17 .

MV ICEBERG 1

Flag: Panama

Crew: 24

Taken March 29, 2010

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from June 3.

FV PRANTALAY 12

Flag: Thailand

Crew: 25 (14 of whom have been released, and six of whom were reported to have died of an unspecified illness)

Taken: April 18, 2010.

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from June 3.

MV POLAR

Flag: Panama

Crew: 24

IMO: 9299563

Taken: October 30, 2010

MV ALBEDO

MV Albedo

Flag: Malaysia

Crew: 23

IMO: 9041162

Taken: November 26, 2010

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from July 1.

MV MSC PANAMA

Flag: Liberia

Crew: 23

IMO: 902125

Taken: December 10, 2010

MV ORNA

Flag: Panama

Crew: 19 (18 Syrians and 1 Sri Lankan)

IMO: 8312162

Taken: December 20, 2010

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from July 15.

FV SHIUH FU No.1

Flag: Taiwan

Crew: 26

IMO: Fishing vessel, not registered

Taken: December 25, 2010

The Taiwanese fishing vessel FV SHIUH FU No. 1 was attacked on December 25, 2010 in the morning by a pirate skiff 138 miles off the north east tip of Madagascar.

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from July 22.

MV EAGLE

Flag: Cyprus

Crew: 24

IMO: 7026508

Taken: January 7, 2011

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from July 29.

MV HOANG SON SUN

Flag: Mongolia

Crew: 24

IMO: 8323862

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.

Crew of the MV Leopard

January 12, 2011

Six crew members (two Danish and four Pinoy) were taken from the MV Leopard t after it was hijacked. The crew disabled the munitions carrying ship and a Turkish naval vessel boarded the ship to find it without crew. It was hijacked 200 miles off of Oman after dropping off its security crew. The crew members are being held on land and being ransomed with no clear resolution in sight.

For more information and background, please see our piracy report from July 8.

MV SAVINA CAYLYN

Flag: Italy

Crew: 22

IMO: 9489285

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.

MV SININ

Flag: Malta

Crew: 23

IMO: 9274941

Taken: February 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.

FV ALFARDOUS

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.

SY ING

Flag: Denmark

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 sailboat was attacked approximately 600 miles east of Somalia in the Indian Ocean. The hostages are being held aboard MV Dover.

MV DOVER

Flag: Panama

Crew: 20

IMO: 7433634

Taken: February 28, 2011

The Greek-owned vessel was attacked while it was 300 miles north east of Salalah, Oman.

Rosalie D'Amata

MV ROSALIA D’AMATO

Flag: Italy

Crew: 21

IMO: 9225201

Taken: April 21, 2011

The vessel was attacked 402 miles south east of Salalah, Oman.

For more information and background, please see our piracy report from August 5.

MT GEMINI

Flag: Singapore

Crew: 25

IMO: 8412352

Taken: April 30, 2011

The Singaporean-owned vessel was attacked 207 miles east of Malindi, Kenya.

FV JELBUT 33

The fishing dhow is currently being used by pirates as mother ship.

FV JELBUT 31

The fishing dhow was on June 10 disrupted by a German warship, which destroyed its skiffs and forced the mother ship to return to Somalia. The origin of the vessel is unknown, but EU NAVFOR believes it has eight hostages on board.

Send your tips to info@somaliareport.com

This list is compiled from various sources, including pirates, ship owners, maritime officials, anti-piracy groups, local communities, EU NAVFOR, NATO, and Ecoterra Intl.

2 Dead, 4 Injured in Hobyo Pirate Fight
By AWEYS CADDE 08/10/2011
Hobyo in Puntland's Mudug Region
@Somalia Report
Hobyo in Puntland's Mudug Region

In what is becoming a regular occurrence, Somali pirates have once again killed each other in a gunfight.

At least two people were killed and four others were injured as two pirate groups fired at each other in Hobyo district of Mudug region on Wednesday morning.

Witnesses told Somalia Report that “fully armed pirates started arguing for unknown reason and then started firing guns at each other.”

As more towns protest the presence of pirates, Hobyo is one of the few coastal towns of Somalia where pirates can operate without much inference, however, today's fight affected the movement of the people and vehicles, frustrating locals.

Most recently, residents in Alulua district of Puntland denied anchorage to the hijacked MV Dover.

Pirates routinely blow their ransom on wine, women, khat and other drugs, inflicting anger among local residents who are offended by the pirates' immoral behavior, and today was no exception.

Maritime Security Company Worries About Possible New Trend
By SOMALIA REPORT 08/08/2011
A Somali pirate attack on a merchant vessel on Sunday could possibly signal the start of a new tactic of “hunting in packs”, a maritime security company said Monday.

The attack off the coast of Eritrea in the Red Sea, flagged up by the International Maritime Bureau, was carried out by 12 skiffs, with five to eight pirates on each, and was only rebuffed by an on-board security detachment.

“What marks this attack out for special attention, and the reason it should be of particular concern to all shipping companies and members of the maritime community is that in this instance, it would appear the pirates attacked in large numbers, en masse,” Neptune Maritime Security said.

“Whether this represents a genuinely new approach to tactics by pirates is as yet unknown,” the company added. “What is clear, however, is that only the presence of an armed security detail on board the bulk carrier ensured its continued safe passage and the safety of its crew and cargo.”

15-Month Captivity Ends, But Others Not so Lucky
By ANDREW MWANGURA 08/05/2011
Please Credit www.SomaliaReport.com

Weekly Report: Friday August 5, 2011

Somalia Report maintains an extensive search-and-rescue database on hijacked ships, kidnapped crews and land-based hostages. In an effort to clarify the often confusing and deliberately misleading information communicated by pirates we will publish a weekly update with each ship being spotlighted in turn.

Piracy statistics

At least 19 ships (not including the Danish yacht in the list of vessels held) and an estimated 386 seafarers are in the hands of pirates. At least 27 of these hostages, including the Danish hostages and crews from the MT Asphalt Venture and the MV Leopard, as well as two South African sailors, are being held on land or on board other vessels. Bruno Pelizzari and Deborah Calitz were taken off a private sailing yacht in November of last year and are currently being held in southern Somalia. The Durban couple is being ransomed for $5 million dollars. Many other ocean-going vessels were released without ransom or freed by foreign navies.

Weekly Summary

No ships were hijacked in the last week, although there were several reports of attempts, including one on the Iranian-owned MV Hadis in the Red Sea, which maritime sources say was thwarted by the Iranian navy. However, NATO listed no attempted hijackings in its real-time piracy monitoring feed.

Partial Prantalay release

There was finally relief for 14 crew members of the Thai-flagged Prantalay 12, who Puntland officials say were released on Monday after more than a year in captivity. The hostages, from Myanmar, were released after negotiations between elders in Dhanaane village and pirates.

However, five crew members are still being held, and Puntland’s anti-piracy chief told Somalia Report another six crew had died of illness during the long captivity (the Thai-flagged fishing vessel was hijacked on April 18, 2010 as it passed through the Indian Ocean, some 1200 nautical miles off Somalia).

Residents of Dhanaane told Somalia Report that the vessel was destroyed by monsoon waves on July 12, forcing them to move the hostages to land and allowing negotiations to take place. Somalia Report was unable to independently confirm the wrecking of the ship.

"We are happy tonight but are still worried about our five brothers who still being held,” one of the released crew told Somalia Report.

The five remaining crew members are believed to now be on board the Greek-owned MV Polar.

FV Prantalay 12, the last of a fleet of three fishing vessels seized at the same time, had remained on the Ceel Dhanaane coast until recently when she was commandeered onto a piracy mission. The vessel was used by pirates as supply vessel for other hostage ships during her days in captivity.

In May, the pirate group holding the vessel was attacked by another armed group, which allegedly had the consent of the owner and was geared up by a Somali broker to "liberate" the vessel.

Ramadan fears for Algerians

While there was joy for the released Prantalay sailors, the relatives of 17 Algerian seamen held aboard the MV Blida, taken on January 1, grew desperate enough to demonstrate in Algiers, saying they feared their loved ones would die due to a combination of the fasting month of Ramadan and the famine in Somalia.

"When we last spoke with them by telephone, on July 9, they told us that they would do the fast whatever the conditions of their detention," the brother of one of the captives, Abdelkader Achour, told AFP news agency. "With their being fed, when they are, with pasta and dirty water, I fear that they will return them to us in coffins.”

The relatives have staged several protests, AFP said, but the Algerian government has insisted it will not pay ransoms.

In-fighting

The pirates also continued to thin their own ranks this week when a fight broke out between different groups holding the MV Polar.

One died and two were wounded in gunfight sparked by a disagreement over ransom. The owners of the vessel reportedly agreed to pay one of the gangs $8 million ransom on July 20, which the pirates accepted, but the other pirate gang and one of its investors refused to the release the ship and demanded more money.

Toxic issue

Since the pirates are still quiet due to the monsoon weather, giving us a bit more time on our hands, Somalia Report had a poke around at the claims toxic dumping is still going on off Somalia – an excuse dished up by the pirates for their nautical nicking spree.

While there is plenty of evidence showing that the dumping of hazardous waste was a real issue in the nineties, there is a distinct lack of proof to support claims it is still ongoing. Our correspondent travelled to Hobyo to view some of the suspect containers that have washed up, and found that not only had they been there for years, but there appeared to be very little toxic about them.

We are not stating categorically that dumping isn’t going on, as you will see in the full report, just that there is no hard evidence to back up the oft-repeated claims by pirates and fishermen. A full assessment is needed by an independent body and there is no doubt that a clean-up is required to rid Somalia and its waters of the waste dumped in the past. We advise you not to hold your breath in expectation of either of these events taking place.

Hijacked vessel list

SPOTLIGHT:

Rosalie D'Amata
Rosalie D'Amata

MV ROSALIA D’AMATO

Flag: Italy

Crew: 21

IMO: 9225201

Taken: April 21, 2011

The vessel was attacked 402 miles south east of Salalah, Oman.

The Italian-flagged and -owned Bulk Carrier MV Rosalia D’Amato was captured by pirates on April 21 approximately 350 nautical miles south east of Salalah, Oman, in the Indian Ocean. The 74,500 ton bulk carrier was taken while underway to Bandar Imam Khomeini, Iran from Paranagua, Brazil when it was attacked by a single skiff.

The owners of the vessel, Perseveranza Spa di Navigazione of Italy, told Somalia Report on Wednesday afternoon that all crew members of the vessel are in reasonable health, although five are suffering from high blood pressure. He added that they are currently looking for ways and means of delivering medication.

He further said that negotiations are ongoing very slowly but the shipping company is doing its best to end the ordeal of the hostages.

Crew members aboard the vessel are comprised of 6 Italians and 15 Filipinos.

Owner contacts:

Perseveranza Spa di Navigazione

84, PIAZZA MUNICIPIO 80126 NAPOLI

ITALY

+390815423311

MV OLIB G

Flag: Malta

Crew: 18

IMO: 8026608

Taken: September 8, 2010

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from June 17 .

MV ICEBERG 1

Flag: Panama

Crew: 24

Taken March 29, 2010

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from June 3.

FV PRANTALAY 12

Flag: Thailand

Crew: 25 (14 of whom have been released, and six of whom were reported to have died of an unspecified illness)

Taken: April 18, 2010.

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from June 3.

MV POLAR

Flag: Panama

Crew: 24

IMO: 9299563

Taken: October 30, 2010

MV ALBEDO

MV Albedo

Flag: Malaysia

Crew: 23

IMO: 9041162

Taken: November 26, 2010

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from July 1.

MV MSC PANAMA

Flag: Liberia

Crew: 23

IMO: 902125

Taken: December 10, 2010

MV ORNA

Flag: Panama

Crew: 19 (18 Syrians and 1 Sri Lankan)

IMO: 8312162

Taken: December 20, 2010

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from July 15.

FV SHIUH FU No.1

Flag: Taiwan

Crew: 26

IMO: Fishing vessel, not registered

Taken: December 25, 2010

The Taiwanese fishing vessel FV SHIUH FU No. 1 was attacked on December 25, 2010 in the morning by a pirate skiff 138 miles off the north east tip of Madagascar.

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from July 22.

MV BLIDA

Flag: Algeria

Crew: 27

IMO: 7705635

Taken: January 1, 2011

The vessel was attacked 172 miles south east of the Port of Salalah, Oman.

MV EAGLE

Flag: Cyprus

Crew: 24

IMO: 7026508

Taken: January 7, 2011

For a detailed profile and background, please see our piracy report from July 29.

MV HOANG SON SUN

Flag: Mongolia

Crew: 24

IMO: 8323862

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.

Crew of the MV Leopard

January 12, 2011

Six crew members (two Danish and four Pinoy) were taken from the MV Leopard t after it was hijacked. The crew disabled the munitions carrying ship and a Turkish naval vessel boarded the ship to find it without crew. It was hijacked 200 miles off of Oman after dropping off its security crew. The crew members are being held on land and being ransomed with no clear resolution in sight.

For more information background, please see our piracy report from July 8.

MV SAVINA CAYLYN

Flag: Italy

Crew: 22

IMO: 9489285

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.

MV SININ

Flag: Malta

Crew: 23

IMO: 9274941

Taken: February 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.

FV ALFARDOUS

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.

SY ING

Flag: Denmark

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 sailboat was attacked approximately 600 miles east of Somalia in the Indian Ocean. The hostages are being held aboard MV Dover.

MV DOVER

Flag: Panama

Crew: 20

IMO: 7433634

Taken: February 28, 2011

The Greek-owned vessel was attacked while it was 300 miles north east of Salalah, Oman.

MT GEMINI

Flag: Singapore

Crew: 25

IMO: 8412352

Taken: April 30, 2011

The Singaporean-owned vessel was attacked 207 miles east of Malindi, Kenya.

FV JELBUT 33

The fishing dhow is currently being used by pirates as mother ship.

FV JELBUT 31

The fishing dhow was on June 10 disrupted by a German warship, which destroyed its skiffs and forced the mother ship to return to Somalia. The origin of the vessel is unknown, but EU NAVFOR believes it has eight hostages on board.

Send your tips to info@somaliareport.com

This list is compiled from various sources, including pirates, ship owners, maritime officials, anti-piracy groups, local communities, EU NAVFOR, NATO, and Ecoterra Intl.

Feature
Wealth of Historical Evidence, But Little Proof Today
08/04/2011
Jetsam off Hobyo locals say is proof of toxic dumping
©Somalia Report
Jetsam off Hobyo locals say is proof of toxic dumping

Somalia’s pirate gangs portray themselves as a “local coastguard”, defending Somalia from unscrupulous hordes of foreign vessels taking advantage of the chaos and lack of an effective government to use the Horn of Africa nation’s waters as a free dump for toxic waste and a ripe ground for illegal fishing.

While most observers acknowledge such events were one of the sparks for piracy in the 90s, few now buy the justification for what has become a multi-million dollar industry targeting high-value merchant vessels travelling far outside Somalia’s territorial waters.

There has been historical and academic claims that indicate that both practices took place, but the big question is whether it is still ongoing, as pirates, local fishermen and officials from both the Transitional Federal Government and Puntland claim. In the first of two reports, Somalia Report looks at the toxic dumping claims.

Historical dumping

There is no doubt that toxic dumping took place in the past, gaining pace after the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, which sparked a chaotic period where the warlords who ruled the roost were happy to deal with unscrupulous organizations wanting to dispose of unsavory cargoes in exchange for weapons.

Greenpeace in 1997 published research that showed Swiss and Italian companies were working as brokers for companies taking hazardous waste from Europe to dump off Somalia and other African countries.

According to a 2010 report by the campaigning group, there were 94 attempted/actual cases of hazardous waste exports to Africa between 1998 and 1994, involving over 10 million tons of residues, including radioactive material.

Shady groups from Italy, linked with Somalia due to its role as the colonial ruler of Italian Somaliland before independence, were particularly prominent. The report says that in the mid to late-nineties, an Italian mafia group known as Ndrangheta worked in cahoots with the Somali government and warlords to arrange for waste to be either dumped in coastal waters or buried along the coastline.

According to the report, Ezio Scaglione (honorary consul of Somalia) told an Italian probe prompted by Greenpeace’s research that Giancarlo Marocchino, an Italian businessman resident in Karan, said he could get rid of radioactive waste by burying it in containers used to strengthen the pier in Eel Ma’aan, a small port north of Mogadishu.

Excerpts from an intercepted telephone conversation showed Faduma Aidid, an official Somali representative to Italy, discussing other dumping arrangements.

“The Garowe-Bosaso road will be used to bury the waste,” he said. “They have poisoned the whole territory ... The toxic waste produced by Italian and European (sic) industries gets loaded onto boats in the port of Trieste. They get distributed in the countries. It is toxic waste and uranium. It destroys everything.”

Writing for The Ecologist in 2009, journalist Chris Milton said the Italian probe found that 35 million tons of waste had been exported to Somalia for $6.6 billion.

Investigating the allegations proved deadly for some. Italian journalist Ilaria Alpi was shot dead in Mogadishu in 1994, reportedly because she had seen evidence the Ndrangheta were working with warlords to dump toxic waste in exchange for weapons.

The waste buried on land was just part on the picture, and evidence of sea-based dumping was literally pitched up in 2004 when the Indian Ocean tsunami hit. Dozens of containers were washed up on the shores of Somalia, and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), in a 2005 report, said that waste washed up on the shores caused serious health problems:

“The impact of the tsunami stirred up hazardous waste deposits on the beaches around North Hobyo (South Mudug) and Warsheik (North of Benadir). Contamination from the waste deposits has thus caused health and environmental problems to the surrounding local fishing communities including contamination of groundwater. Many people in these towns have complained of unusual health problems as a result of the tsunami winds blowing towards inland villages. The health problems include acute respiratory infections, dry heavy coughing and mouth bleeding, abdominal haemorrhages, unusual skin chemical reactions, and sudden death after inhaling toxic materials.”

In addition, the report said: “The economic potential of Somalia’s marine resources has been seriously affected and threatened, whilst dumping of toxic and harmful waste is rampant in the sea, on the shores and in the hinterland.”

The bulk of the support for toxic dumping in Somalia exists in the Italian press, using Somalis, Italian mafia snitches and local stories as sources. What is missing is any significant attempt to locate, measure, test or scientifically back up these stories. Local uncorroborated tales, photos of rusted containers and a listing of previous articles allow journalists and NGO's to bend the story either way. A story about the lack of toxic dumping has little commercial value or resonance. An investigative story about western nations destroying the Somali economy have much greater impact even if the underlying facts are missing.

As recently as 2008, the then-UN special envoy for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, said he had "reliable information" that European and Asian companies were dumping waste. However, he offered no evidence to back up his statement.

Today's accusations

While hard proof of historical abuse exists, the situation today is murkier, as the security situation means few groups actually gain access to take water samples or investigate suspect containers.

Coastal communities say that while toxic dumping decreased for a while, the arrival of foreign navies in 2008 to tackle piracy set the process in motion again. Many fishermen accuse NATO and the European Union of using their navies to protect vessels engaged in dumping from pirates.

“After the tsunami that enveloped the coast of Somalia, we have registered a significant drop in our catches,” Bashir Yussuf Barre, spokesman for the fishermen of Banadir, told Somalia Report.

“Two things are possible here: first there has been this issue of toxic waste disposal into our waters, and we believe as fishermen this is the biggest contributor to the drop in our stocks. Some western multinational companies are using our waters to dump some dangerous and poisonous toxic waste, thus reducing fishing activities. The other issue is that there is a growing concern all over the world that sea products are decreasing due to adverse climatic conditions.”

Another fisherman, based in Hobyo, said he had seen evidence with his own eyes.

“A few weeks ago, three big unidentified containers washed onto our seashore, the next day we saw a number of dead fish along the shore,” Mohamed Hirre told Somalia Report. “That means that illegal dumping is continuing unabated in Somalia ... we will only witness the reduction of our fish stocks in the next few years if the world doesn’t protect our sea.”

Alessandro Gianni, Campaign Director in Greenpeace’s Italian office, acknowledges they have no programs in Somalia due to security, and thus it is hard to prove anything in the current climate. However, he points to signs in Italy that efforts are still ongoing to use Somalia as a rubbish dump.

“We know that last summer the Italian Customs blocked some containers loaded with 45 tons of car scraps in the harbour of Gioia Tauro,” he told Somalia Report. “According to a press release issued by the customs authorities, the waste – declared as automotive ‘spare parts’ - was bound to Somalia.”

Ecoterra Intl, a marine monitoring group that also tracks piracy, says it has evidence that foreign vessels are still using Somalia’s un-policed waters to dump a variety of nasty goods. But the group, which says it is working on court cases, refused to reveal any of its proof when contacted by Somalia Report.

The case against

As for the foreign navies, they dismiss out of hand allegations that they are shielding nefarious dumping vessels, or that any wrongdoing is taking place anywhere in the areas they patrol.

“We have seen absolutely no evidence of such activity at all. There has been some of this many years ago, but not any more in the last years,” Commodore Michiel B Hijmans, former commander of NATO’s anti-piracy mission Ocean Shield, told Somalia Report before he handed over his responsibilities to his successor in June.

“I am afraid it is indeed just an excuse used to misinform, and by that to mislead, the Somali people and also some in the international community,” he added.

Nick Nuttall, spokesman for UNEP, said that a multi-agency team took water samples after the tsunami, but was unable to turn up any evidence of significant water pollution. He said his feeling was that toxic dumping was a “historical phenomenon”. However, he did admit that the chaotic nature of the situation in Somali meant that no proper studies had been done, and said nobody had “ever gotten to the bottom of these allegations”.

“This is a concern that dates back over two decades and UNEP some time ago was concerned that there might be illegal hazardous waste being taken to Somalia,” he told Somalia Report. “But, we have been unable in the intervening years to follow that up, in part because of security reasons and difficulties in getting a really top scientific team in to spend what would require some time to really carry out full assessments.”

One of the cornerstone "proof" documents was a report created by Mahdi Gedi Qayad who traveled to the region in May and June of 1997, talked to local leaders, walked on the beach and wrote a simple 6 page report that found no evidence of toxic waste dumping other than the verbal testimony of the locals. The report was not released to the public but was often cited as United Nations proof of toxic dumping when in fact no proof was provided. The aftermath of the 2004 tsunami also provided more "proof" in the form of containers, debris and industrial items that were labeled as evidence of toxic dumping but again no scientific connection between toxicity and these containers were created.

Another example of a 'suspect' container
©Somalia Report
Another example of a 'suspect' container

'Suspect' containers

As shown by Hirre’s testimony, delivered by telephone earlier this year, reports still pop up that suspect containers have washed up, particularly around Hobyo. However, part of the problem is that local communities seem to treat any flotsam (floating wreckage of a cargo or ship) or jetsam (part of a ship or cargo thrown overboard in times of distress) that arrives on their beaches as proof of toxic dumping. At one point, Somalia Report was promised a picture of a waste container. When it arrived, it turned out to be nothing more than a navigation buoy.

Somalia Report sent a correspondent to Hobyo to look at the containers and take pictures of them. Our reporter was told there were at least five containers, but he was only able to view three during his visit due to insecurity (at one point he was kidnapped by a local militia). Each container he was shown had been there for at least two years, and Hobyo residents told him they had not seen anything new wash up since.

The containers our reporter viewed on the beaches were for the most part empty, and looked as though they had been in the water a long time before washing up. Equally, there was nothing to suggest that their contents had ever been dangerous.

We sent pictures of the containers to Glen Forbes, who served in the Royal Navy for over three decades and now runs OCEANUSLive, a site aimed at improving the safety of seamen through communication. Forbes said it was “very unlikely they would have been used for the transportation of toxic waste”.

“They appear to be jetsam (possibly flotsam),” he told Somalia Report. “They would have made very poor containers.”

However, Forbes said that the containers would need to undergo toxicology analysis to be absolutely sure of their origins.

Uncertainty rules

With such a poor haul of hard evidence on show, the case for toxic dumping remaining a problem is decidedly weak, resting largely on tales passed around fishing communities. The flip side, however, is that it cannot be proven that dumping is not taking place, and it would be naive to preclude the possibility of such behavior given the number of unscrupulous corporations who have shown they will do exactly that given half a chance. However almost every general story about the birth of piracy, conditions of the coastal communities will add the effects of toxic waste dumping as a root cause of their decline. The acceptance of toxic dumping (along with the supposed former existence of a robust indigenous fishing industry) has added a false sense of moral purpose, external abuse and blurred the focus on piracy as a purely home grown criminal activity. Greenpeace, in its 2010 report, called on the UN to carry out an independent assessment, particularly in the area of Eel Ma'aan - a demand unlikely to be met any time soon given the UN's reticence to send their staff into areas where they could be shot or kidnapped.

Until such times as the security in Somalia improves enough to allow proper research from reputable environmental groups, or a company is caught in the act of disposing of its sludge - as was the case when oil-trading company Trafigura was in 2010 found guilty of dumping hazardous waste in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, four years earlier - pirates and fishermen will continue to claim they are the victims of an international conspiracy, and their claims will be brushed off by those they accuse.

Even if hazardous waste is still being jettisoned into Somali waters, the pirates' insistence that they are defenders of the coastline is nothing more than a line to justify their money-making ventures. If they were truly serious, they would target only vessels involved in dumping and illegal fishing and share the ransom money with local communities hit by these practices. Instead, they target oil tankers and yachts and blow their ill-gotten gains on khat, prostitutes and fancy cars.

(Somalia Report journalists Muhyadin Ahmed Roble, Abdullahi Jamaa and Andrew Mwanguara contributed to this report)

Exclusive
5 Crewmembers of FV Prantalay 12 Still Being Held
By MJ 08/02/2011
Anti-Piracy Agency Director, Abdirisaq Du'aysane
@Somalia Report
Anti-Piracy Agency Director, Abdirisaq Du'aysane

Puntland's general director of counter-piracy, Abdirisaq Du'aysane, told Somalia Report that Somali pirates released 14 captive seamen late yesterday after local community elders in Dhanaane village, where the hostages were being held, secured their release after long negotiations with the pirates. The former hostages arrived this afternoon in Garowe, the administrative capital of the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, and met with officials in the Global Hotel.

NATO officials told Puntland marine officials that the 14 seamen were part of a crew of 25 from the Thai-flagged Prantalay 12 fishing boat, which was hijacked on April 18, 2010 by a group of Somali pirates as it passed through the Indian Ocean, some 1200 nautical miles off Somalia.

“Six of the of the crew members died from disease earlier this year and five others are still in the hands of the pirates. It is not known where they are being held now," said the general director in an interview with Somalia Report.

"We will hand over them to the UNDP and UNODC who will arrange for the seamen to return home," he added.

The Prantaly 12 was completely destroyed by the monsoon waves on July 12, 2011 forcing the pirates to move the hostages to land, according to residents in Dhanaane Village who spoke to Somalia Report.

One of the freed hostages spoke to Somalia Report by mobile phone this evening and said, "We are happy tonight but are still worried about our five brothers who still being held. We hope to reach our homes tomorrow and thank the community elders who worked hard for our release. We also want to thank the Puntland officials who welcomed us today in Garowe."

The hostages were reportedly carrying paperwork indicating they are nationals of Myanmar.

Sources indicated that the five remaining hostages are likely being held on board the Greek-owned MV Polar.