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October 31, 2010

Tuna vessel opens fire: pirates back off

Here's more evidence that Somali pirates get the message when merchant vessels shoot back.

Spanish broadcaster RTVE reports that on Sunday two pirate skiffs broke off their attack and fled after private security guards aboard the Basque tuna vessel Elai Alai fired warning shots at them.

The incident took place about 200 miles west of the island of Mahé the largest in the archipelago of the Seychelles.

The 30 crew aboard the Elai Alai took the normal security precautions, including securing themselves in a place of refuge.

When the pirate skiffs continued their harassment, the private security guards aboard the tuna vessel opened fire and they broke off their attack.

This is the second time within-two weeks that private security guards aboard a Basque fishing vessel have averted a pirate attack. On October 17, guards aboard the fishing vessel Ortube Berria opened fire to repel an attempted boarding by a group of pirates in Indian Ocean waters about 700 miles off Somalia. Guards aboard the Ortuba Berria had previously repelled a November 2009 attcak by exchanging fire with pirates who then fled.

Meantime, as Somali pirate activity continues at a high level, EU Navfor reports mixed fates for ships not employing armed security guards.

On the morning of October 30, 2010, the Maltese-flagged MV Go Trader was reported under attack from one skiff approximately 280 nautical miles (520 kilometers) southeast of Salalah, Oman.

Pirates managed to board the vessel; however, after a couple of hours they eventually abandoned it, after having been unable to get control over the crew who had locked themselves in the ship's "citadel." The 24 crew members are reported safe.

That same morning the 24 members of the crew of the MV Polar a Panama-flagged tanker, was less fortunate.The vessel was attacked during the night, approximately 580 nautical miles (almost 1,100 km) east from Socotra island. The next moring the owner confirmed that the vessel was under pirate control.

The MV POLAR, deadweight 72,825 tons, has a crew of 24, of whom one is Romanian, three are Greek, four Montenegran and 16 Filipino. According to GAC Protective Services, If a successful rescue operation is not initiated [unlikely if the crew is not in a "citadel"] the vessel will likely face a detention period of around 120 days until a ransom is paid for its release.


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