Monday, January 17

Pirates Kidnap LEOPARD Crew of 6 - Lesson Unlearnt from DANICA WHITE Incident

The MV LEOPARD was recently boarded by pirates. Apparently the crew had managed to disable the vessel which resulted in the pirates taking the crew off the vessel as hostages.
The crew of the coaster Leopard seems to have been kidnapped by the pirates that attacked the ship earlier this week. When a Turkish warship arrived at the Leopard there was no sign of the crew (two Danes and six Filipinos) or the pirates. The Leopard was simply drifting without any crew. Nato forces believe the crew has been transferred to a Taiwanese fishing vessel, which had been seized earlier by pirates and used as a mother vessel for attacking commercial ships.

The ship’s owner, Shipcraft A/S, in Hørsholm has not been available for comment on the situation. - Shipgaz
This is not the first time a Danish-Flag vessel with a crew of six has been taken over by Pirates. The MV DANICA WHITE was captured by pirates back during the summer of 2007. they had a crew of six. Amazingly, the Danish Maritime Administration blamed improper watchkeeping as part of the reason why the vessel ended up in the hands of pirates:
If there had been proper lookout from DANICA WHITE, the pirate boats could have been spotted app. 30 minutes before they reached DANICA WHITE. However, due to the slow speed of the ship, DANICA WHITE could not have sailed away from the pirates, but the crew would have been able to raise the alarm in time and shown the pirates that they had been spotted. (6.5) - DMA (page 5) - Link, 'DANICA WHITE Hijacking - 'Minimum Safe Manning' Partly to Blame'
My post on the issue, DANICA WHITE Hijacking - 'Minimum Safe Manning' Partly to Blame, takes issue with this given that the Danes permitted the ship to be crewed with so few seafarers to the point of being impossible for the crew to maintain a proper watch.

Just watch, when this is all over, the crew of the LEOPARD will be blamed for losing control of their ship and being taken hostage by pirates.

Here is a photo from the NATO site showing the amount of barbed wire the vessel had wrapped itself in. This of course does little good if the pirates manage to get the ship to stop for any reason.

View the NATO Press release here. (Note PDF Format)

And here is a NATO photo of help arriving too late.

The vessel apparently had a Citadel space. I wonder what happened and how the crew ended up in the hands of pirates if they did indeed have a space and managed to get into it. Of course these spaces are only as good as their ability to keep the pirates out until help arrives. Otherwise the pirates can just wait until you run out of food or water, or worse create a situation where you want to get out, such as setting the vessel on fire or attempting to sink it. NATO does note the following in regards to coming to the rescue of crew under attack by pirates:

The use of a CITADEL DOES NOT guarantee a military response. Before owners, operators and masters commit to a policy that recommends the use of a citadel, it is important to understand the criteria that military forces will apply before a boarding to free the ship can be considered:
  • 100% of the crew must be secured in the CITADEL.
  • The Crew of the ship must have self-contained, independent, 2-way external communications. Sole reliance on VHF communications is insufficient.
  • The pirates must be denied access to propulsion.

The following points should also be taken into consideration when preparing CITADELS:
  • All emergency equipment in the CITADEL should be fully and regularly tested for functionality.
  • The communications system should have a power supply for a minimum of 3 days, based on a continuous open line (Consider satellite communications / satellite e-mail.)
  • A full list of emergency contact numbers including UKMTO should be held inside the CITADEL.
  • At least 3 days of food and water provisions for all the crew should be available in the CITADEL.
  • Medical supplies, including medication for the treatment of physical trauma, and sanitation should be made available.
- PDF Link
This will surely be an interesting piracy incident to keep my eyes on.
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