A vessel’s crew hijacked almost three years ago by Somali pirates has been freed, says the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB).
After 1000 days in captivity the 22 remaining crew of the MV Iceberg 1 were freed as a result of a two-week operation by the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF) in Garaad in the Mudug region of Somalia. The freed hostages needed some medical attention and are reportedly showing signs of physical abuse and illness. During the years of captivity two crew members died.
The vessel was hijacked off the Yemeni coast in March 2010. Since the vessel was hijacked the crew have been left on their own with reportedly little support from their owners. During its captivity, the vessel grounded and is believed to be a total loss.
The IMB commended the PMPF on their actions against the pirates. None of the crew were harmed during the operation. An IMB spokesman commented, “Whilst this is a successful rescue operation, our thoughts are with the remaining 139 hostages still held by pirates, 28 of whom have been there for just under two years.”
The number of successful pirate attacks off the Somali coast have decreased in the past year, largely due to the efforts of international navies in the region, as well as the use of private armed security guards on vessels and other measures to harden vessels against attacks.
Despite these measures, pirate vessels and attempted attacks have been reported in the Somali Basin, Gulf of Oman and the Southern Red Sea. There have been 75 incidents reported to the IMB off Somalia this year of which 14 vessels were hijacked. The IMB called for vessels to remain alert as they transit through these waters as the threat has not diminished.
Naval Today Staff, December 25, 2012; Image: IMB