Eleven crew members of a Malaysian-registered ship MV “Albedo” that was hijacked by Somali pirates in November 2010 have been freed and left for Kenya, said NATO’s Shipping Centre in a weekly update.
The sailors have been held hostage for nearly four years in poor conditions and are said to have been subjected to torture. The conditions of their freeing have not been disclosed.
Malaysian flagged Motor Vessel MV Albedo had 23 crews members when it was hijacked. Seven of the crew were freed in 2012, while four died when the ship, held by armed pirates at an anchorage close to the Somali Coast, sank in rough seas in July last year.
Thirty nine sailors remain in pirates’ hands those being: four crew from Ex FV Prantalay, hijacked in April 2010, seven from Ex MV Aphalt Venture taken hostage in April 2011 and 28 from Ex Naham 3, captured in March 2012.
The sailors share the fate of MV Albedo’s crew who were abandoned by their ship’s owner, unwilling to pay ransom for either the crew or captured vessel.
Successful disruptions by naval forces patrolling the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, as well as armed guards aboard many vessels, in conjunction with Masters’ adherence to and implementation of BMP4, have significantly reduced the pirates’ ability to capture vessels. However, pirates retain the capability of conducting acts of piracy against vessels of opportunity, NATO’s Shipping Centre stressed.
When speaking about pirate tactics that marked the recent period, the Centre explained that pirate attack groups have made “soft approaches” on merchant ships transiting the High Risk Area (HRA).
“Skiffs have been known to approach vessels in order to probe the reaction of the crew and any possible privately contracted armed security personnel (PCASP) onboard. If the pirate approach does not elicit a response, the pirates may then proceed with an attack, using additional skiffs. However, the use of BMP4 and the reaction of PCASP have recently been effective in warning off any small boats which might otherwise have had close contact with the transiting vessel,” the update reads, urging shippers to remain vigilant of potential threats.
Press Release, June 23, 2014, Image: Eunavfor