It seems the Somali pirates are either getting overly ambitious in their recent choice of targets or they’re experiencing bad luck as yesterday they seized the RoRo vessel M/V Faina. The ship was en route to Kenya with 33 Russian-built T-72 tanks and a substantial quantity of ammunition and spare parts. The New York Times writes:
Pirates in a hijacked ship carrying more than 30 battle tanks were anchored off the coast of Somalia near a notorious pirate den on Saturday, and they vowed not to release the ship until a $35 million ransom was paid, Somali and Kenyan officials said.
Meanwhile, a United States Navy destroyer, the Howard, was closing in on the hijacked ship.
“We’ve got a constant stare on it,” said Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, an American military spokesman. He would not say how far away the destroyer was from the hijacked vessel, but he acknowledged that the American ship was close enough to maintain visual contact. He also said there were no imminent operations planned against the hijacked ship. Continue Reading….
The pirate spokesman (yes they now do press interviews) is not the only official likely embarrassed by the incident… soon after announcing the first military show of force in what Wired Magazine and The Miami Herald are calling “Cold War II” one of their anti-submarine ships suffered from a tragic engine room fire, killing two sailors (details). Now with the loss of 33 Russian tanks aboard a Ukrainian vessel manned with Russian and Ukrainian crew the country’s Navy is sending the frigate Neustrashimy to rendezvous with a US Navy Destroyer following the Faina.
This hijacking is the latest in a recent upsurge likely the result of millions of dollars in ransom demands being met by shipowners and brings the number of attacks off Somalia to 61 this year. The pirates are now holding a total of 14 ships and more than 300 crew members according to Noel Choong who heads the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center based in Malaysia. (You can view a chart of the piracy statistic HERE).
The following video report comes from Russia Today: