Keep a Sharp Lookout for the Thejan Putha, and its Crew of Murderous Pirates

Rob Almeida
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October 18, 2012

Hambantota Coast

On 15 October, the fishing vessel Thejan Putha was hijacked approximately 50 nm off the Hambantota Coast of Sri Lanka. Ten armed asylum seekers-turned pirates boarded the fishing vessel from a fiberglass dinghy reportedly with permission from the captain. Armed with swords, the pirates then tied the hands of four crewmembers behind their backs and threw them overboard, but not before cutting the throat and stabbing one of the crewmembers.  Another crewmember jumped off the vessel before he could be subdued.

MV Edith Maersk happened to be transiting through the area and rescued one of the men who was tossed overboard by the pirates.  In a report obtained by The Australian, Captain JA Petersen commented:

“He told us he was a fisherman from Sri Lanka and their fishing boat was attacked … by some people who wanted their boat for emigration to Australia.  There were six people on this fishing boat. At least four of them were tied up and thrown into the sea.

He told us that they were hurt by the pirates. They cut a big wound in his neck and stomach. We treated him.”

According to a report by the Associated Press, three of the crewmembers reportedly have died and the remaining two were rescued by the MV Edith Maersk and the MV Lusail.  The location of the hijacked vessel is unknown at this time but is believed to be headed to Australia.

Other news of maritime crime and piracy around the world, via the Office of US Naval Intelligence:

GUINEA: General cargo ship boarded on 16 October near 09:24 N – 013:45 W, Conakry roads. Six robbers boarded a general cargo ship at anchor. The crew secured themselves in the accommodation and contacted the owners for help. The owners informed the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre, which relayed the message to the Guinea authorities, who dispatched a patrol boat to assist the vessel. The robbers stole cargo contents from the containers and escaped upon seeing the approaching patrol boat. All crew reported safe. (IMB)

NIGERIA: Tugboat BOURBON LIBERTY 249 boarded on 15 October off the coast of Port Harcourt. Armed pirates boarded the 82-tbp anchor handler and kidnapped 7 crewmembers before departing. The vessel’s company did not state if the crew had been harmed or if anything from the vessel was stolen. The remaining 9 crewmembers were reported to be safe and in transit
to Onne. (TW, AP)

INDONESIA: Salvage vessel boarded on 17 October at 00:59 N – 105:10 E, approximately 19.4 nm east of Pulau Mapur. Ten robbers armed with guns and knives boarded a salvage vessel towing a barge from Singapore to Balikpapan, Indonesia. The robbers stole ship properties, crew cash and property, and escaped. All the crew safe and the vessel continued her passage towards Balikpapan. (IMB)

INDONESIA: Bulk carrier boarded on 16 October near 00:13 S – 117:33 E, Muara Berau Anchorage, Samarinda. Three robbers boarded a bulk carrier at anchor. They were spotted by the duty crew during security rounds. The duty AB reported to the bridge and approached the robbers, who assaulted and injured him. The duty AB managed to escape. The robbers stole crew belongings and escaped. (IMB)

INDONESIA: General cargo ship boarded on 15 October at 01:06 N – 104:10 E, near Kabil Citranusa Port, Batam. Three robbers boarded a general cargo ship at anchor. They were spotted by the alert duty crew, who raised the alarm. Upon sensing the crew’s alertness, the robbers escaped empty-handed. (IMB)

BANGLADESH: Bulk carrier boarded on 13 October at 22:15 N – 091:44 E, Chittagong Anchorage ‘A’. Seven robbers armed with long knives boarded an anchored bulk carrier from the aft during cargo operations. Duty crew noticed the robbers trying to steal ship’s stores and raised the alarm. On hearing the alarm and seeing the crew’s alertness, the robbers jumped into the water and escaped with stolen stores. Coast guard informed and a patrol boat came to the location and searched for the robbers, but the robbers had disappeared. (IMO/IMB)

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