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Mar-18-2011 12:50printcomments

Tunisian Ship Released from Somalia

Reportedly the chief engineer of the vessel was slightly injured with a hit of a gun-butt when the ship was taken.

Motor Transport Ship Habbibal
Motor Transport Ship Habbibal photo: seanews.com.tr

(NAIROBI, Kenya ECOP-Marine) - The Tunisian tanker MT HANNIBAL II was finally released this morning and is now proceeding to Djibouti with a navy escort. All the crew are in good health after a detention of 127 days, the owners of the vessel confirmed.

Last minute problems with the vessel having no more fuel for the voyage could be solved and the hostage ordeal for the crew is now over, returning to a new Tunisia, where during the long absence of the crew, a new dawn has come for the people of Tunisia.

A family member stated: "Très heureuse après ce long cauchemar. Merci pour votre soutien et réconfort." Gabes Marine Tankers, the owners of the vessel, told ECOTERRA Intl. that they are happy that the saga ended and "We do not forget the other crews still detained by the pirates and we wish for them a prompt release, they are really living an ordeal."

BACKGROUND:

MT HANNIBAL II : Seized November 11, 2010 In the early morning hours the Tunisian-owned and Panama-flagged chemical and oil-tanker MT HANNIBAL II (IMO 8011756) was taken at 04h35 UTC in position 11:26N – 066:05E off the coast of India while sailing to Suez from Pasir Gudang, Malaysia - ferrying vegetable oil.

"The master of the vessel reported that he had been attacked and boarded by pirates in an area some 860 nautical miles East of The Horn of Africa which is considerably closer to India than it is to Somalia," EU Navfor said in a statement.

The originally 31 men strong crew of the 24,105 tonne double-hull tanker consisted of 23 Tunisians, four Filipinos, a Croat, a Georgian, a Russian and a Moroccan.

GABES MARINE TANKERS SARL as ship-manager fronts for the owner POLO NAVIGATION LTD - both of Ez Zahra, Tunisia. Reportedly the chief engineer of the vessel was slightly injured with a hit of a gun-butt during the attack and the ship had at first arrived near Garacad at the North-Eastern Somali coast of the Indian Ocean.

At 01h05 UTC on 23. November 2010 MV HANNIBAL II was reported in position 10°30N 059°04E - apparently on a piracy mission.

At 06h31 UTC on 26 November 2010 MV HANNIBAL II was observed chasing a merchant vessel in position 18°50N 061°23E, course 300°, speed 7.8 knots. The pirated vessel was conducting piracy operations but then came to the Somali coast again.

Stranger than fiction Order Now

On 17 December a crew-member with a serious medial condition was successfully evacuated with the consent of the captors of the vessel and in a joined naval medivac operation led by a Thai navy vessel as well as the immediate medical treatment on a German warship. The crew member of the hijacked vessel MV Hannibal II, who was released by the pirates, was then transferred to the Bouffard hospital in Djibouti after being treated for a suspected appendicitis by medical staff on board the EUNAVFOR German warship FGS HAMBURG.

After being described as being stable and very happy to be free, he was transferred to a military hospital in Tunisia. Narrating his time as a hostage, he said: “We were all kept the whole time on the bridge of our ship. The only possibilities to move were the few minutes when we were allowed to go to eat. Most of the times we got some rice with fish.”

Like in other cases pirates had offered the sick man to be released without conditions, but this is the first time that the ship-owner, captain and crew played along. In other cases like when a Ukrainian woman had an abortion, neither the vessel owner nor even the Ukrainian parliament facilitated a possible medical evacuation.

The vessel was moored off Dinowda Quorioweyn not far from Garacad at the north-eastern Indian Ocean coast of Somalia, but apparently now has left for another piracy operation. At 13h37 UTC (10h00 local time) on 27 December 2010, a Pirate Action Group consisting of pirated vessel Hannibal II acting as mother-ship was reported in position 15 10N - 056 22E with course 165 and speed 14 kts.

At 06h00 UTC on 28. December the MV Hannbal II was then reported in position Latitude: 12°27N Longitude: 055°07E with course 226° at speed 11 kts.

On 01. January 2011 the attack skiff, which captured Algerian MV BLIDA was launched from Hannibal II and at 08h40 UTC on 02. January 2011 pirated vessel Hannibal II was reported in position Latitude: 12 14N and Longitude: 054 54E - possibly looking for even more prey.

Thereafter the vessel and remaining crew of 22 Tunisians, four Filipinos, a Croat, a Georgian, a Russian and a Moroccan. returned to the Somali Indian Ocean coast and is held there at present.

While the government of Tunisia has been renewed by Tunisia's youth, which finally stood up against the shortcomings of their state, the vessel owners appear to be so far unconcerned to solve the case quickly.

If the so far successful public uprising in Tunisia will help with a quick resolve of this case remains to be seen. Though the former president and some cronies have fled the country, Tunisian authorities so far leave everything to the shipowner. However, the vessel owner was finally forced to face representatives of the governments and their families concerned and became active again to seek a release. ECOTERRA Intl. urged the Somali clan of the pirate group holding the vessel to let crew and ship go in solidarity with the people of Tunisia and on 19. February 2011, there was hope expressed that the case could be concluded within one or two weeks.

Vessel and crew were transferred along the cost and are held now off Hobyo at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast. Information transpired during the last days, that despite the general uproar along the coast about the fatal incident involving the death of four Americans and four Somalis on a pirated yacht, the release of MV HANNIBAL II could go ahead as planned in the coming days.

INDONESIAN CARGO VESSEL SEAJACKED IN ARABIAN SEA

At 16h42 UTC (13h42 LT) on 16. March 2011 the merchant vessel MV SINAR KUDUS (IMO: 9172507) was reported pirated en route from Singapore to Suez (Egypt) in position 14 21N and 059 25E while travelling 005 degrees at 6 kts. The attack happened around 300 nm northeast of Socotra Island and 250 nm South east of the Juzur al Hallaniyat (Kuria Muria) Islands of Oman at the region where the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean become the Gulf of Aden. NATO confirmed the seajacking.

The Indonesian-flagged general cargo vessel of 8,911 dwt is listed to belong to SAMUDERA INDONESIA TBK PT as registered owner and is managed by SAMUDERA INDONESIA TBK PT, while SAMUDERA INDONESIA SHIP MANAGEMENT is the ISM manager - all residing at the same location in Jakarta, Indonesia.

EU NAVFOR reported that details of the attack are not known at this time but initial reports from the crew stated that 30 to 50 pirates had boarded and taken control of the vessel.

However, the European naval forces also stated that within 24 hours of the attack, the MV SINAR KUDUS was used to launch a further attack on the Liberian flagged Bulk Carrier MV EMPEROR.

A skiff with 5 pirates on board was launched from the SINAR KUDUS and attacked the EMPEROR but was repelled by the armed force on the merchant vessel. The EMPEROR was subsequently reported to be safe. The MV SINAR KUDUS and the MV EMPEROR were registered with MSC(HOA), and were reporting to UKMTO. MV SINAR KUDUS remains in the hands of presumed Somali pirates.

Source: Ecoterra




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