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Piracy & Security

Svitzer tug hijacked off Somali coast

The Svitzer Korsakov was on voyage from St Petersburg.

DANISH towage major Svitzer is in negotiations with Somali pirates after an ice class tug newbuilding with British, Irish and Russian crew on board was hijacked near the coast of the failed state on Friday, the company has confirmed. 

Svitzer Korsakov was on a voyage from St Petersburg, where it had been built, to its intended deployment in Sakhalin in the Russian Far East. 

A spokesman for the owner said today: “We have been in contact with the master and subsequently with the pirates. 

“What we have heard is that [the crew] are unharmed, they have got food, water and are getting some sleep. Morale is good.” 

But he declined to discuss the issue of what, if any, demands had been made by the pirates, citing the need for discretion in such circumstances. 

There have been a number of instances in which Somali pirates are understood to have secured substantial payments from western shipowners. 

Danish media last August reported that the owner of Danica White, Copenhagen-based H Folmer, paid $1.5m to secure the release of the vessel and five seafarers from Somali pirates’ clutches. 

Svitzer Korsakov was at the time of writing reportedly anchored off the coast of the town of Eyl, in the breakaway region of Puntland, whose claim to autonomy is not recognised by Somalia’s weak transitional government. 

Abdirahman Mohamed Bangah, the entity’s information minister, requested international naval intervention. 

“Puntland urges the US Navy and western marine forces along the Indian Ocean and Red Sea to rescue the hijacked Russian ship,” he said. “Puntland is not in position to safeguard [its] long coastline.” 

A spokesman for the British Foreign Office said: “We are monitoring the situation and liaising with the Russian authorities.” 

A spokesman for the International Maritime Bureau, the industry’s anti-piracy watchdog, said that the hijacking was the first reported piracy incident involving Somalia this year, compared with a total of 31 cases in 2007. 

The IMB has informed the relevant naval and coastal authorities in the area, he added. 

* Read Lloyd’s List Newsroom Blog - What the Romans did for us and Push against piracy - and join in the debate.
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