At least a dozen ships and more than 200 crew members are currently being held by pirates off the coast of Somalia, according to the International Maritime Bureau and NATO. Four of the pirate-held ships are believed heading toward the lifeboat on which bandits are holding the American captain of the U.S.-flagged Maesrk Alabama, in an effort to provide assistance, according to sources close to the pirates and diplomats. A look at some of recent hijackings:
Ships currently held off the Somalia coast and the dates they were seized:
“¢ April 9: Yemeni fishing boat Shugaa Almadhi with 13 crew hijacked.
“¢ April 6: British-owned bulk carrier, the Malaspina Castle, hijacked in the Gulf of Aden. It is carrying iron and has a crew of 24 from Bulgaria, the Philippines, Russia and Ukraine. Lloyd’s Marine Intelligence Unit says the ship is owned by Navalmar U.K. Ltd and managed by BNavi SpA of Italy.
“¢ April 4: German 20,000-tonne freighter Hansa Stavanger seized 400 miles off the Somali coast. It has 24 crew members on board: 5 Germans, 3 Russians, 2 Ukrainians, 2 Filipinos and 12 Tuvalus. It is owned by Hamburg-based Leonhardt & Blumberg Schiffahrtsgesellschaft mbH & Co.KG. Two men who are either pirates or affiliated with pirates have said the Hansa Stavanger is one of four vessels pirates have directed toward the Maesrk Alabama.
“¢ April 4: Taiwanese ship, Win Far 161, seized near the Seychelles islands. It has a crew of 30, including 17 Filipinos, six Indonesians, five Chinese and two Taiwanese. Two men who are either pirates or affiliated with pirates have said the Win Far 161 is one of four vessels pirates have directed toward the Maesrk Alabama.
“¢ March 25: Panama-registered, Greek-owned Nipayia with 18 Filipino crew members and a Russian captain is seized by pirates. The Nipayia is managed by Athens-based Lotus Shipping.
Two ships hijacked by pirates were released or freed Friday:
“¢ The 23,000-ton Norwegian-owned Bow Asir, captured March 26 250 miles (400 kilometers) off the Somali coast with a crew of 27 from Philippines, Poland, Russia and Lithuania. Salhus Shipping AS owns the ship, but the company does not say whether it paid a ransom for the release.
“¢ French naval forces storms the French yacht Tanit, which had been held by pirates since April 4. The assault, triggered by threats the captive passengers would be executed, frees four French tourists, including a child, but one hostage and two pirates die in the operation.