A pirated fishing vessel that could be housing dozens of hostages is once again on the move and has been spotted close to the Somali coast, the European Union’s Naval Force Somali said Thursday.
In an update, EUNAVFOR said that a Spanish Maritime Patrol Aircraft overflew the pirate controlled FV Naham 3 and observed that the vessel had moved from its sea anchorage to a Somali beach in the Galmudug region.
The Naham 3 has been under the control of armed pirates since it was hijacked in the Indian Ocean on March 26, 2012 with 28 crewmembers. She had been tethered to MV Albedo, which was pirated in November 2010, for several months. The MV Albedo sank in shallow waters on July 7 and since then FV Naham 3 has been sighted sailing up and down the coast or at anchor.
The fate of the MV Albedo’s 15 crewmembers is yet to be confirmed following her sinking, at least not from EUNAVFOR. However, a report by Reuters said that four crewmembers were killed when the vessel sank and a later report from the Secretariat for Regional Maritime Security indicated that 11 crewmembers were still alive and being held on the Naham 3, along with her 28 crewmembers.
Since then, the Naham 3 has been under close watch by EUNAVFOR patrols. Recent aerial photographs have shown pirates wielding their weapons on the upper deck of the dilapidated fishing vessel, but no hostages have been seen in or near the vessel.
The EUNAVFOR update said that it believes that negotiations are on-going between a hostage support program and the pirates to try and secure the safe release of the hostages. Only time will tell really.
Somali pirates still hold a total of 54 hostages and just one vessel (the Naham 3), according to EUNAVFOR figures.