DUBAI - Almost a week after its capture by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean, there is no clue on the location of the UAE-owned ship MV Jubba XX.
Nine hijackers clambered aboard to take control of the tanker on July 17, and it has since vanished. A spokesperson for the European Union naval force patrolling the Horn of Africa area said no ransom demand was made and the fate of the 16-member crew was not known to them.
The European Naval Force for Somalia (EUNAVFOR) said there was no word from the captain, or the owner of the tanker, which was laden with oil at the time of capture. “We have no further information from the owners or the Master,” said Commander Harrie Harrison, Royal Navy, spokesperson for the naval force.
“We have had no communication with regard to the status of the crew and we know of no ransom demand,” he said.
The hijacked UAE vessel was last seen 100 nautical miles northwest of Socotra Island and was on her regular voyage from Umm Al Quwain in the UAE to Berbera in Somalia.
Five UAE ships have been attacked since the start of the year, a high for this period. Somali pirates were involved in 60 per cent of the attacks globally and, as of June 30, were holding 20 vessels and 420 crew hostage, according to the International Maritime Bureau.
Somali pirates usually operate from skiffs with high-power engines which are supported by a mother ship. They approach the targeted vessel astern and use lightweight ladders to climb onboard. Warships from the Combined Maritime Force, NATO, the EU and independent nations (such as India, China, Russia) patrol the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean — usually in the region of 15-20 ships.
A study commissioned by the Oceans Beyond Piracy Project, said thousands of sailors were fired at, beaten and incarcerated by the pirates. In some cases, they were tortured, the think-tank had reported in June.
According to the findings, 4,185 seafarers were attacked with firearms and rocket-propelled grenades, 342 survived attacks in citadels (enhanced security rooms in ships) and 1,090 were taken hostage. It also said 516 seafarers were used as human shields in 2010.
Losses from the piracy runs into billions of dollars, with Oceans Beyond Piracy Project estimating it to be in the range of $7-12 billion. This includes ransom payments, insurance premiums, re-routing of ships, security equipment, naval forces, prosecution, anti-piracy organisations and cost to regional economies.
“Piracy is more an organised business being run by vested interests. And though governments and NGOs voice their concern, their role is limited and often ineffective,” said Radhika R, maritime expert and Associate Editor with Maritime Gateway.