The Oman-flagged and Taiwanese-owned fishing vessel Naham 3, hijacked on March 26, 2012, is still in pirate hands and currently floating off the Somali coast. Naham 3 is currently tied astern the semi-submerged MV Albedo, a bulk carrier seized by pirates in 2010 and which sank in heavy weather off the Somali coast last week.
Air and sea assets of the anti-piracy European Naval Force (EU Navfor) mission to the region have released images of the rusting hull of Naham 3, as pirate guards on board kept a close eye on the hostages held below decks. Negotiations are ongoing between the owners of the Omani-flagged vessel and the hijackers to agree on a ransom amount.
EU Navfor officials said they are unsure of the exact number of hostages being kept on the vessel, which was seized with 28 crew members. A number of survivors from MV Albedo were transferred to the fishing vessel as it began to sink last week. ‚ÄúThe situation is unclear in terms of confirmed number of hostages held on board. Naham 3 remains in pirate hands and negotiations are on with owners and pirates. Aerial photographs (of Naham 3) show armed pirates on board. We believe that they are keeping hostages below deck,‚Äù said an EU Navfor spokesperson.
In a release issued last week, EU Navfor officials detailed the extensive search operations conducted to determine the fate of the crew of MV Albedo.
Reconnaissance photographs show Naham tied astern of Albedo, with armed men on the upper deck. There have been no sightings of hostages from either vessel.
As reported last week, an EU Naval Force Maritime Patrol Aircraft sighted two life boats on a Somali beach approximately 14 miles north of MV Albedo. No members of MV Albedo crew or pirates were sighted in or near the lifeboats.
Exact figures on the number of vessels and hostages still being held by Somali pirates differ, as some piracy monitoring organisation do not count dhows and fishing vessels in their reports.
According to the UK Maritime and Trade Office in Dubai, six vessels are still in pirates hands including dhows, fishing vessels and merchant carriers.
According to the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre, seven piracy-related incidents have been reported in regional waters this year, including one hijacking. NATO and EU Navfor figures state 43 hostages are being held, excluding survivors from MV Albedo. The IMB indicates 68 hostages and four vessels are currently under pirate control.