Pirates Attack Dutch Container Ship While Ukrainian Tries to Escape
The attack took place 450 nautical miles east of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.
The Saturday attack, which was carried out by eight pirates in two speed boats, demonstrates that the pirates have extended their reach beyond their Somalia base. The pirates from Somalia fired semi-automatic weapons and fired a rocket from a RPG at the Dutch vessel. The ship caught fire but the captain successfully took evasive action to prevent a hijack. The ship sustained damage but managed to continue its voyage.
The new attack took place as the European Union prepared to launch its naval operation to patrol near the Horn of Africa with six warships and three surveillance planes. This attack is evidence that the pirates are becoming bolder and spreading to a wider area south from the Somalia coast.
The Netherlands-based ship flies a Hong Kong flag and had a crew of 19. The captain said they spotted a white-hulled fishing vessel nearby, which was probably the pirate mother vessel. The International Maritime Bureau issued an alert to all ships off the coast of Tanzania to be on a strict anti-piracy watch.
At least four ships and two observation planes from several EU countries, including the UK, France and Greece, will escort aid and merchant ships. The EU is replacing the NATO fleet and will be in the region for at least a year. EU foreign ministers have approved what officials describe as robust rules of engagement.
The operation is the first EU defense mission commanded by a Briton, Rear Admiral Phillip Jones, from the UK's RAF Northwood. Greek Commodore Antonios Papaioannou will run the operation in theatre.
Admiral Phillip Jones said the EU was pressing African, European and East Asian allies for contributions that could double the size of his small armada of six ships, tasked with patrolling thousands of square miles of sea.
Crew of Ukrainian ship in escape bid
Crewmen aboard a hijacked Ukrainian ship, FAINA, fought their Somali captors in a bid to escape. Two of the pirates were jumped by crew members but eventually overpowered. The ship, which was captured on September 25th, is carrying 33 battle tanks, as well as ammunition and other weaponry. The pirates would not say whether the incident could adversely affect ongoing negotiations for the ship’s release. The pirates have already lowered their ransom demand to $3.5 million.