The Somali pirates who hijacked the Beluga Nomination on January 24 have made their first indirect contact with the shipowner, reports Germany's Radio Bremen. Though the pirates made various demands, the Bremen-headquartered Beluga Shipping would not disclose what these were.
It also emerges that three crew members, not two, died in the events surrounding an unsuccessful attempt to free the vessel.
Two crew members were murdered by the pirates and not one, as previously reported. A third drowned while attempting to escape.The new number was confirmed by shipowner Niels Stolberg, in an interview with the Weser-Kurier newspaper. He said that in addition to the Filipino bosun another crew member was killed by the pirates. The crew member who drowned after jumping overboard was the chief engineer
The failed rescue attempt came after pirates, according to earlier reports, used welding gear to access the citadel where the crew of 12 had secured themselves.
Recently updated advice to shipowners on citadels now not only gives guidelines on how these should be set up, but also says:
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 advice notice also says that "the most effective counter-piracy tactic is to ensure through passive defensive measures that the pirates do not board the ship in the first place."
Beluga Shipping looks to have taken that last item of advice the logical next step forward. The Radio Bremen report says the company is now putting private security teams on its ships.
February 6, 2011
Meantime, the Bremen police has opened up its first ever piracy case, sending detectives to the Indian Ocean to take statements and make investigations.