Spanish frigate ‘Numancia’, integrated into the EUNAVFOR operation ‘Atalanta’ against piracy in the Indian Ocean, has been involved in an intense search for survivors of the merchant ship ‘Albedo’ sunken off the coast of Somalia.
The ‘Albedo’, was hijacked on November 25th 2010 while on her way to Mombasa (Kenya). The crew consisted of 23 people from different nations: 7 from Bangladesh, 2 from India, 1 from Iran, 7 from Pakistan and 6 from Sri Lanka. The death of an Indian member of the crew was reported in June 2011 and in July 2012 the 7 Pakistanis were released after paying a ransom. There was no news of the remaining sailors.
On July 5th the Spanish frigate, on patrol in the Gulf of Aden, was ordered by EUNAVFOR Command to set course towards the area where the ‘Albedo’ was anchored because the weather conditions had worsened in the previous days and the condition of the merchant ship was unstable due to lack of maintenance. Subsequent reports indicated that the ship had finally sunk because of the extreme weather conditions in the coast of Somalia.
A Spanish Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) patrolling the area confirmed that the ‘Albedo’ had sunk with the bridge sticking out of the water. The ‘Numancia’ sent her helicopter to the area in search for possible survivors.
The Spanish units were the first to arrive and the Commanding Officer of the frigate was appointed Area Commander in charge of coordinating search and rescue operations.
On the 8th and 9th, ‘Numancia’ carried out an intense SAR effort. Two lifeboats from the ‘Albedo’ and three containers, also possibly from the sunken ship, were detected on the beach but without trace of survivors.
Press Release, July 12, 2013; Image: