Pirates Release Crew

After eight months held as hostages, 11 Indonesian seafarers are returning home.  But concern is spreading in the industry that ransom negotiations are taking too long, Lloyds List reports.

The crew were taken hostage when their tug, the Malaysian-flagged Masindra 7 was finally released last weekend.  Their release follows protracted negotiations between the vessel’s owner, Masindra Shipping, and the pirates who captured it off the Yemen coast on December 16 last year.

Meanwhile unconfirmed reports say a $2.7m ransom payment was parachuted onto the German boxship Hansa Stavanger also this week leading to the release of the vessel and its 24 crew.

Negotiations reportedly broke down several times since the 1,550 teu vessel was first hijacked on April 4 with five Germans, three Russians, two Ukrainians and 14 Filipinos on board.

Lloyds reports talks were fraught after the pirates learned of an aborted attempt in May by Germany’s elite GSG9 special forces to rescue the 1997-built, Liberia-flagged vessel.

A total of 10 vessels and approximately 167 crew are still being held hostage in various locations in Somalia.

Meanwhile Tradewinds reports five crew members of Limarko-owned reefer were kidnapped in late-night raid off Nigeria two days ago.

The Maritime Union worked closely with the Australian government in recent months to help develop a national response to combat pirac and armed robbery at sea.

Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Transport announced in June that Australia has strengthened its commitment to international efforts to combat piracy off the Horn of Africa.


International Maritime Bureau figures show that more than 100 ships were attacked and 42 hijacked in the Gulf of Aden and the Somalia region in 2008. 

In February 2009 the minister asked the Inspector of Transport Security, Mr Mick Palmer, a former head of the Australian Federal Police, to undertake a comprehensive inquiry into maritime piracy and armed robbery at sea as it affects Australia.

Mr Palmer is investigating the impact of piracy and armed robbery at sea on Australian registered and international trading ships and on Australian maritime trade more generally.

The Inspector and key members of his team have liaised with a range of senior stakeholders including the Maritime Union of Australia.

The inquiry will assist the Australian Government in determining whether any changes are required to our domestic security framework. Mr Palmer is due to report in the second half of 2009.

In the Asia Pacific region, the Malacca Straits has for many years been a focus for pirate and criminal activities. 

Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand have formed the Malacca Straits Security Joint Working Group in response to the problem. 

Under the initiative, the maritime forces of the four countries coordinate sea patrols of the area.

Overall, there has been a significant reduction in attacks in this important maritime area.