Surveyor who died in Yemen bomb blast "doubted pirate attack story"

JUNE 29, 2012 — A U.K. court has been told that British marine surveyor David Mockett was killed by a bomb blast in Yemen on July 20 last year after he had doubts that an allegedly hijacked tanker, the Brillante Virtuoso, had ever been attacked.

At the time of the incident, on July 6, 2011,  the Brillante Virtuoso hit the headlines when shortly after it reported the attack it then reported a fire on board which was beyond its control and said that the intention was to abandon ship.

The guided missile cruiser, USS Philippine Sea (CG 58), operating under Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), responded to the distress call. When the Philippine Sea arrived on the scene, it observed smoke coming from the superstructure of the ship and that the crew had abandoned ship in a life-raft. The Philippine Sea found no evidence of pirates and concentrated its efforts on assisting the crew members. (See earlier story)

The Daily Telegraph reports that Mr. Mockett's wife told an inquest yesterday that she had received an email from her husband saying he "could not find any evidence of bullet holes or exposure to grenades."

Det Supt Jonathan Tottman, from Scotland Yard's counter terrorism squad. who was sent to Aden to investigate Mr. Mockett's death, told the court that he ruled out official Yemeni claims that al-Qaeda was behind the bombing.

Mr. Tottman said Mr Mockett's last job was to investigate "criminal enterprise, piracy on the high seas where a third of the world's oil goes through at any one time in very busy shipping lanes."

He said Somali pirates had targeted shipping lanes, but said a scam was being operated so insurers would pay out once "attacked" ships had been surveyed for damage and loss.

"This was a scam and a lot of money was being made," he told the Plymouth and south Devon coroner Ian Arrow. "David had great integrity and professionalism and would not bow to bully boy tactics."

The coroner recorded a verdict of unlawful killing.

Read the Daily Telegraph story HERE