Sunday, June 03, 2012 -
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Somalia Report news agency reported on June 03 an attempt made by the Puntland Marine Police Force (PMPF) to free suezmax tanker Smyrni by force.
Sources on the ground have told SomaliaReport that PMPF officers operating in speed boats attacked the hijacked vessel, which is home to some 26 crew members and an unknown number of pirate bodyguards or Ilaalo. Despite the efforts of the PMPF to free the vessel, the pirates defended it, firing on the PMPF who were forced to withdraw and return to port. There are reports of casualties, but as yet no details as to whether they were members of the PMPF or pirates’ gang. Sources suggest that the pirates holding the MT Smyrni may now be preparing to move the vessel to another port.
We don’t know first of all, what that attempt was initially – initiative of the PMPF, or the owner of the vessel. If it was Puntland authorities initiative, was the owner informed of the operation in advance, and did he agree with the plan? If owner agreed or worse, initiated operation, what are his excuses for mortal danger to the crew, for whose well being he is responsible no less, than for the cargo and the vessel? If all of it is PMPF idea, without owner’s approval, will there be any protests from owner and other involved parties? Does Puntland have a free hand in carrying out such operations, will Puntland practice the use of force further on, and what about lives of the crews and safety of the vessels and cargoes?
Suezmax tanker Smyrni hijacked by Somali pirates on May 10 2012 in position 15 58 N 061 03 E, Arabian sea, 250 nm off Oman coast, 440 nm of Socotra island eastern tip, Arabian sea. Tanker was sailing from Ceyhan Turkey via Suez Canal to Basrah Iraq, according to AIS data. Smyrni was transiting in the International Transit Corridor and reportedly, didn’t have security team aboard. It is reported also, that probably, the tanker was violently attacked the day before, suffering heavy RPG and AK 47 fire. Tanker is loaded with 135000 mt of Azerbaijan crude oil of some $130 million market value, destined for refineries in Balikpapan Indonesia, PT Pertamina Co. The destination discrepancy between AIS data and statements of owners of the vessel and cargo is not explained. Crew 26: 14 Indians, 11 Filipino and 1 Romanian. Manager obviously, decided to save money on security guards believing Somali piracy is about over. Crude oil tanker Smyrni IMO 9493779, dwt 156000, built 2011, flag Liberia, manager DYNACOM TANKERS MANAGEMENT LTD, Greece.