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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

FT.com / World - Call for navies to seek out pirates’ ships

Call for navies to seek out pirates’ ships

FT.com

By Robert Wright in London

Published: November 18 2008 20:18 | Last updated: November 18 2008 20:18

Naval forces off Somalia must take firm action to tackle the vessels pirates are using as bases for long-range attacks, shipping organisations said on Tuesday after Saturday’s audacious seizure of a huge oil tanker.

Pirates on Tuesday captured another merchant ship in the Gulf of Aden, and the Sirius Star, the largest vessel yet seized by pirates, arrived off the Somali coast as ransom negotiations continued for its release.

Peter Hinchliffe, marine director of the International Chamber of Shipping, said naval forces could identify the “motherships” from which attacks were launched and that there was a legal right to search them and seize weapons.

“We want [naval forces] to go on board, look for evidence of piracy, confiscate the weapons, confiscate the ships if possible and arrest the pirates,” he said.

Intertanko, the tanker owners’ association, Intercargo, the dry bulk shipowners’ group and the International Maritime Bureau, which monitors piracy, all echoed his calls.

Nato and European Union members are among countries that have deployed military force to protect merchant ships off Somalia.

The Sirius Star’s seizure shocked shipping circles because of the vessel’s size and because a new international trade route is now at risk. Previously, vessels have been seized just off Somalia or in the Gulf of Aden but the Sirius Star was 420 miles offshore, heading from the Arabian Gulf to the Cape of Good Hope.

The Sirius Star’s owners, Vela International Marine, said the vessel was thought to have arrived off the Somali coast and its crew members were safe.“At this time, Vela is awaiting further contact from the pirates in control of the vessel,” a statement said.

The new vessel, the Delight, managed by Iran’s IRISL shipping line, was seized in the Gulf of Aden after leaving the Suez Canal with a cargo of grain bound for Bandar Abbas in Iran. The seizure brings to 39 the number of vessels hijacked so far this year by Somali pirates, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

FT.com / World - Call for navies to seek out pirates’ ships

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