AT LEAST one crew member and one pirate were killed in an attempt by naval forces to free the hijacked multipurpose vessel Beluga Nomination in the Indian Ocean. Shipowner released details of the incident – which took place on 26 January – to Bremen reporters over the weekend. A Danish frigate and a Seychelles patrol boat were reported to have staged the intervention, in which the bosun and one of the hijackers were killed and the pirates still seized the ship. But four other crew were able to get off the ship amid the chaos, two of whom were later recovered in a lifeboat. The other two crew are still missing. It is still unclear why the Danish frigate aborted the mission instead of boarding the vessel, whose engine was temporarily shut down during the raid. The pirates aboard Beluga Nomination were assisted by the pirate mother ship York.
Niels Stolberg, CEO of Beluga Shipping GmbH, expressed harsh criticism of the anti-piracy mission’s tactics in the latest escalation, describing the communication by the Atalanta operations control centre as “a disaster”. Beluga Nomination, entered with Norwegian P&I club Skuld for liability insurance and loaded with yachts and general cargo, has meanwhile been taken to the Somali coast by the hijackers. Seven crew, including the Polish captain, are held hostage. The German shipowners association VDR renewed its call for deployment of German federal police or naval guards on board German ships in high-risk waters. “It’s the federal government’s duty to protect seafarers serving on ships of German owners,” declared VDR president and Hapag-Lloyd CEO Michael Behrendt.