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ICC’s International Maritime Bureau has helped free a ship and its crew from a gang of 25 heavily armed pirates in Somali waters where they had been held captive for three weeks. The Panagia Tinou was able to continue on course for India with her multi-million dollar cargo of fertilizers.

An
emergency call to the IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre in Kuala Lumpur sparked
negotiations that led to the eventual release of the hostages.

 

IMB
provided support and advice to the parties involved in the operation. The
bureau’s Director, Captain Pottengal Mukundan, said international cooperation
played a vital part in the Panagia Tinou’s rescue.

 

He said:
“We are grateful for the support of German warships in the region. A
German warship was standing by throughout the whole incident and escorted the
rescued ship safely out of Somali waters.”

 

Negotiations
with the kidnap gang were conducted by specialists appointed by the
underwriters of the vessel.

 

The vessel
had been taking its 21,000-ton cargo from the Black Sea to the Indian port of
Vishakapatnam when engine trouble forced it to anchor just off the coast of
Northern Somalia.

 

“Next
day at noon time there was an attack from the pirates,” said John
Stathakis of the Samios Shipping Company, which manages the Panagia Tinou.
“They attacked with machine guns and the crew were very scared.”

 

Pirates
approached the anchored vessel in a fast boat and forced the 23-strong Filipino
crew into the mess room, where they were kept hostage. Claiming to represent a
Somali military authority, the leader of the gang demanded that all passports
be handed over.

 

IMB says
the pirates installed a 50 mm gun on the hijacked ship to guard it against
attacks from other gangs or prevent rescue vessels from approaching. They stole
cash from the ship and crew, and light equipment including hand-held
walkie-talkies. Each day of delay to the vessel caused US$ 6,700 of
unrecoverable loss.

 

“These
are dangerous criminals, crooks. They cause millions of dollars of loss. These
gangs are a liability to the international community,” said Mr Stathakis.
“The fortunate thing is that the crew were unharmed.”

 

The IMB
piracy centre warns international shipping that ships anchoring near the Somali
coast are in danger of being seized by one of the warring factions ashore.

 

Ships are
advised to maintain anti-piracy watches and report all pirate attacks and
suspicious movements of craft to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre, Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia.

 

The IMB
Piracy Centre is based in Kuala Lumpur. It posts a weekly world piracy status
report on this website www.icc-ccs.org. The Piracy Centre is financed by
voluntary contributions from shipping companies and Protection & Indemnity
associations.

IMB is part
of Commercial Crime Services, a division of the Paris-based International
Chamber of Commerce.