Source:¬†Lavos Digital¬†[Orig Spanish Language]
“The depth of the bow and stern is further depressed and increasingly raising concerns. The pump cannot cope and increasingly more water is embarked. The submersion is irreversible, it’s just a matter of days.” In an abandoned part of the hot airport of Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, Delgado commander gives the last part on the status of MV Albedo, Malaysian a container ship hijacked by Somali pirates in November 2010 when adrift.
There is no solution for this freighter, anchored 2.2 miles (4 kilometers) off Grisby pirate base in northeastern Somalia, in the longest known hijack/kidnapping. The other vessel still retained is the fishing vessel, Naham III, Oman flag, whose fate is linked to Albedo, as both are engaged by a rope tying them together.
A total of 54 hostages Vietnamese, Bengali, Chinese, Indonesians, Filipinos, Indians, Iranians and Sri Lankans, who have seen their tedious wait for ransom, could see another not so happy ending. In that group, seven Pakistanis, who were released last year after payment of $ 1.1 million, reported on the torture and brutality they received during their captivity.
They, at least, saw the light. But for their fellow seafarers on Naham III and Albedo the die is cast. “We have been warning for several days in 24 hours”, recognizes the Sergeant Lopez, who runs the aircraft’s radar of the P-3 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft that Spain brings to Operation Atalanta against piracy.
At 8:15 pm last Tuesday, the 13 members of the P-3 took off from the airport in Djibouti, where the detachment resides. The mercury was well over 35 degrees and the 40 years old aircraft with four engines began another intelligence mission. Eight hours in flight, 2,500 miles and winds up to 40 knots to go inside neighbouring Somalia and back along the coast to the Gulf of Aden. The aim of the day was to overfly 15 pirate bases, including the “red dot” where the Albedo and Naham III are stationed.
“The Trigger-Happy Pirate”
In the last briefing before the flight, Lt. Col. Cuesta, head of the detachment, meets the crew of the P-3 and the intelligence unit working in a sealed container. Lance Corporal Alfonso Saborido recounts the last minute. “The allies do not report such news. Just remember the security measures filter down to the boats when caught. It is likely to get trigger-happy pirates making the rounds. Much attention.”
This warning is not new. On June 22, the Spanish plane was overseeing the status of the captured cargo vessel, thanks to its electronic warfare equipment, when a pirate who was on the bridge of Naham III gave them a burst with his AK-47. It was the first time it happened. “We did not realize until we analyzed the photographic material collected by aircraft and perceived two shots by the trail of smoke coming out of his position,” confirms Lt. Col. Cuesta. “It was almost anecdotal, because we were flying at a distance far enough out of range. He reported the incident and did not take extra protective measures,” added the head of the mission, who has flown of 56 military air missions.
At 1730 hours, with the thermometer ready to bust – it exceeded 44 degrees – the P-3 Orion returned from its journey. The crew picked up the electronics and took the material produced to the intelligence unit for analysis. An hour later, they met again to give the final assessment.
“There are some changes in the pirate bases. More cars, more buildings, more antennas. In this picture [not displayed] you see movement, in this other skiffs are bordered because the monsoon prevented from leaving, and this is the Albedo, which is getting worse”, says the commander Delgado while showing a video of the freighter that recalls the gradual sinking of the Prestige. Additionally, the Spanish frigate Numancia, with 182 sailors on board, monitors Albedo’s developments like the rest of the European operation Atalanta.