Somali pirates seize German ship off Seychelles

Wed Jan 26, 2011 5:57am GMT
 

By Brian Rohan

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German shipping line appealed for naval intervention on Tuesday after Somali pirates seized a cargo ship and its 12 crew off the Seychelles on Saturday.

The owners of the Beluga Nomination voiced frustration that no military help had reached the 12-man crew during the first two days of their ordeal, when they had taken refuge in a secure "citadel". The pirates were now in full control of the vessel.

"Military assistance is badly required," Bremen-based Beluga Shipping GmbH said in a statement, adding that the ship was now heading west toward Somalia. The crew comprises a Polish captain and seven Filipino, two Russian and two Ukrainian seamen.

"We are somewhat irritated," Beluga chief executive Niels Stolberg said. "Why, within 2-1/2 days during which the crew had hidden from the pirates in the citadel, could no external help be offered?"

The Beluga Nomination was boarded about 800 miles off the Seychelles, far from the areas where pirates mainly operate.

A distress call was sent to the European Union's anti-piracy naval mission in the Indian Ocean, Beluga said. No help arrived.

Poor weather prevented Seychelles coastguards from reaching the ship. Images from a plane which flew over the vessel indicated the pirates had taken over the crew's safe area.

According the website marinetraffic.com, the Beluga Nomination is 9,775 dead weight tonnes and flies the flag of Antigua and Barbuda.

Somali pirates are making tens of millions of dollars in ransoms from seizing ships, including tankers and dry bulkers, in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, despite the efforts of foreign navies to clamp down on such attacks.

A report this month said piracy worldwide was costing the global economy $7-12 billion a year, with Somali sea-bandits in particular driving up the cost of shipping in the Indian Ocean.

 
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