Layla-S: not pirate attack, dismay at reports

Flag: Poland. Present name: LAILA I. Ex-LEILA-5
Cambodian-flagged cargo ship that was reported to have been seized by Somali pirates is held by a local court in northwestern Somalia, an official statement said Saturday.

It was widely reported in local and international media that the Cambodian ship was hijacked by Somali pirates after offloading commercial goods in Berbera, a port town in the breakaway state of Somaliland.

However, the statement from the Berbera Port Authority said the local court in Berbera ordered the detention of MV Layla-S after a local businesses man filled a law suit against the company owning the ship, following the destruction of the businessman's goods in a fire on another ship of the company, MV Mairiam Star.

"On Sep. 15, 2009, the MV Layla-S was detained by Local Court of Berbera after it was accused by the merchant for goods of estimated cost of 250,000 U.S. dollars," said the statement.

The statement expressed dismay that the incident was misreported in the media and said owner of the ship was notified of the case.


Layla-S: after discharging Cambodian-flag cargo

Vessel named Al Hafoof in 2000, Georgian flag, renamed Leila in 2001, unknown flag

Pirates discharged cargo after hijacking Syrian-owned Layla-S.

Somali gunmen hijacked a Cambodian cargo ship, the MV Layla-S, off Berbera after it unloaded at the port in the breakaway northern enclave of Somaliland, "It is said that the vessel has a link with Syrian and UAE businessmen. We are informed that she was taken by gunmen after discharging her cargo.

It is also reported that, the owner of that ship has already abandoned the crew and hence, the crew members might have been held in captivity since the past few days. The crew members are said to be a mix of Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Somalian and possibly Syrian nationals. The vessel is believed to be owned and managed by Al Hufoof, an agency based in either Syria or the United Arab Emirates.

SOMALILAND: Stranded ship Skipper pleads for urgent help as crew health deteriorates
Page last updated January 24, 2010

BERBERA (Somalilandpress) — A crew of fifteen seafarers are stranded onboad a cargo ship, the MV Layla, in the Somaliland port of Berbera for the past five months and the sailors are said to be facing serious risk as their health deteriorates.

The captain of the ship, Mr. Sarath, who is from Sri Lanka, spoke to Mohamed Saed of Berberanews by phone on Saturday, and said that their ship has been stranded in the port for the past five months without charge.

Mr Sarath said he does not know exactly why they were kept in the port but local analysts believe a local firm, Omar International [Company], may have filed a maritime action asking Sahil regional authority and Berbera Port authority to obtain the ship for damages.

Omar International has lost a lot of assets including motor vehicles onboard a cargo ship, MV Mariam Star when it caught fire in it’s upper deck in early September of 2009 and the two cargo vessels both belong to Al-Hufoof Shipping & Forwarding. The local authority and Omar International accuse the crew and skipper of MV Mariam of not cooperating with the port authority to put out the flame by switching the ship’s engine off. They argue a lot could have been done if the crew did not switch the engine of the ship off.

Despite issuing a press release of it’s own, suggesting the dispute was between the local authority and the ship, Omar International is believed to have authorized the local authority to obtain the ship for compensation it wants from Al-Hufoof Shipping & Forwarding.

Omar International company is locally owned influential company while Al Hufoof Shipping & Forwarding is Dubai based firm. When the skipper of MV Layla contacted Al Hufoof Shipping & Forwarding, they told him: “you were carrying goods for Somalis, the people who detained you and your ship are Somalis, we have nothing to do with it”.

“We arrived in Berbera on the 17th of August 2009, after unloading the cargo, as we were preparing to depart we were told by the Sahil regional authority that we were being barred from leaving, but they did not tell us the reason nor charges against us, because we believe we have executed and handed in all the appropriate documents”, he said.

Al Hufoof Shpg LLC
Al hufoof Shipping & forwarding LLC

Activity : Ship Owner/Manager/Operator
Address : PO Box 2911
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
State : Dubai
Town : Dubai
Country : United Arab Emirates
Phone : +971 4 268 8899
Fax : +971 4 269 9939

The ICC's International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has claimed another victory after locating a stolen cargo vessel, missing since September.

The IMB's Piracy Reporting Centre found the MV AL HUFOOF 1 moored in the harbour of Ho Chi Minh City. It had been missing since leaving the port of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates five months ago.

Acting on information passed on by the Piracy Reporting Centre, Ho Chi Minh port authorities boarded the MV HONG HEING last month and have since confirmed it is the missing AL HUFOOF 1.

"The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre sent out an alert to maritime contacts in the region and as a result of further investigations conducted by the IMB, were able to track the stolen vessel," said IMB Director, Captain Pottengal Mukundan. "This has been another good example of cooperation between the shipping industry and Maritime Authorities."

On 2nd September, 2000, the Georgian registered MV AL HUFOOF 1 sailed from Sharjah for Massawa in Eritrea, with a cargo of 3,241 metric tons of wheat flour and sugar.

Soon after her departure, the ship's owners lost all contact with their vessel. Its last known position was in the Gulf of Aden on the 11th September.

Investigations by the ICC-International Maritime Bureau tracked the vessel to Vietnam. It had been renamed HONG HEING and was sailing under a Honduran flag. But Honduran authorities confirmed to the IMB that no such vessel could be traced in their registry.

This information was passed to the Vietnam Maritime Search and Rescue Co-ordinating Centre, who in turn, relayed it to the Ho Chi Minh port.

The cargo of wheat flour and sugar had been illegally discharged into a warehouse in Ho Chi Minh City. Investigations have confirmed that the crew which brought the vessel into Ho Chi Minh City were the same crew who were on board the vessel upon departure in Sharjah.


Arctic Sea: No bullet holes found on Arctic Sea

The ship’s captain showed it off in the early hours of January 4 that is, before Finland's National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), checked the ship on that evening.
The ship’s bridge is what interested the NBI the most.
Everything is in place: the steering and navigation equipment, the device which sends the AIS positioning signal, and the satellite telephone. According to the report, the hijackers kept the crew locked in their cabins. However, it would appear that the locks on the doors could be opened from the inside without a key.
There are no bullet holes in the walls of any of the cabins. What if a hiding place had been built into the structures of the ship during the vessel’s refurbishment in Kaliningrad? It is very hard to say just standing on the deck.
The Maltese flag on the masthead flutters in the wind. The riddle of the Arctic Sea is no closer to being solved.
The" Hijackers" of the Arctic Sea, more than six of them, most ethnic Russians living in the same neighborhood in the Estonian capital Tallinn, were set up, part of a cover meant to save the Kremlin embarrassment about a secret Russian AA missile sale to Iran gone bad. The six men awaiting trial in a Moscow jail, are facing more than 20 years in prison on charges of kidnapping and piracy.In Tallinn, Alexei Bartenev, the brother of another of the alleged hijackers, says he received a letter from accused hijacker Igor Borisov. an unemployed roofer before the "Arctic Sea" incident. by regular mail, drawing attention to the defendants' plight. "They're trying to make it clear they're no kind of pirates," he says. Bartenev says the men are being held in relatively good conditions, but under "complete isolation."

On January 23, the vessel with another load of sawn timber, approaches Algeria.


Maran Centaurus: bank wire transfer confirmed

The pirates involved in the attack said they had received $7 million, including $5.5 million dropped onto the tanker deck and an additional $1.5 million wired to a bank account. Maran Tankers Management Inc., which owns and operates the tanker didn't say who paid the ransom money. The bulk of such payments are typically made by tanker owners. The mother group is called Agelef Shipping Group Ltd. It is managed by John A. Angelicoussis, Chairman and President, Age: 61, a second-generation shipowner. The group has offices in Piraeus, London, Houston, Manila and Okpo, and operates more than 50 vessels, mainly bulk carriers and tankers.


Maran Centaurus: Greek Frigate watched ransom

Some pirates argue that internal rules were broken when a small plane dropped part of the bumper ransom for the Maran Centaurus, a supertanker a third of a kilometer long and laden with two million barrels of crude oil for America. A group of pirates showed up in two speedboats just before a $5.5 million ransom was to be dropped. Two helicopters from the international anti-piracy force chased away the attackers seeking a cut of the ransom after the pirates onboard called frantically for help. "It's really remarkable: You have the criminals calling on the police to come and help them," After the helicopters chased away the attackers, two planes arrived and the huge bundle of cash was pushed out the back of one with a parachute attached. Most ransoms for ships are now delivered by parachute, although brokers also have used bank transfers (total ransom may have been USD 7 million) or speedboats.
The crude oil onboard, estimated to be worth some $150 million at the time it was hijacked, is so flammable that smoking is forbidden on deck.

The vessel is being escorted to Durban by the Greek Frigate Salamis (1 Sikorsky S-70B-6 Aegean Hawk)


Maran Centaurus: money to another bank account

The banking industry finally shows up in piracy as an overnight gun battle in the town of Haradhere over the sharing of a ransom paid for the release of a Greek-flagged supertanker Maran Centaurus brings mention of multiple bank accounts.

The ransom, believed to be a record $7 million, was dropped onto the tanker where it lay at anchor off the port of Hobyo on Jan. 17, Muse said. “There is mistrust within the group because there are rumors that some extra money has been transferred into another bank account that some of us weren’t aware of,” he said. The oil it is carrying is estimated to be worth $150 million.

Pirate activity has grown into a small but profitable industry in one of the world's poorest countries.

"Apart from those who take part in the operations, who currently number more than 1,000, there are those who provide services ranging from negotiations with ship owners, procurement of weapons, training of pirates, information gathering, logistics and so on," said, a British expert with 20 years' experience of Somali financial and development issues.

He was sceptical of suggestions that some funds may be laundered via the Gulf, saying the pirates kept their money inside Somalia because they knew it would be intercepted if they moved it outside the country.

"Some invest in land and property in their home towns where they know that they would never be prosecuted," Ahmed said.

"All the towns in the area are booming ... Ransom money 'trickles down' to many people in the towns. The local economy now runs on dollars, with shillings used only for small change.This is one of the reasons why local people support it." The money is there, bulk cash. The local government doesn't mind, or doesn't have the authority to object, to control ... All dirty deals are paid in cash," he said, referring to the pirates' purchases of arms, communications gear, speedboats and other equipment.

"There is no need for them to launder the money, because the law enforcement is not there at all, the banking system is not there, so why even think of laundering money?"


Maran Centaurus: Angelicoussis pays 7 million

The Maran Centaurus, one of the largest oil tankers ever seized, was captured on 29 November with 28 crew members.

A ransom of between $5.5m (£3.4m) and $7m (£4.3m) was dropped on the deck of the supertanker.

The money was said to have sparked an argument among the pirates and delayed the release of the ship now resolved. "We have agreed to solve our disagreements and release the ship. It is free and sailing away now," one of the pirates, Hassan, telephoned."The crew are all safe."

Maran Tankers Management manages a fleet of 50 tankers in the water and on order, of which 34 are understood to be beneficially for the John Angelicoussis-led group and 16 for Alpha Tankers & Freighters, belonging to Mr Angelicoussis' sister and brother in law.
Angelicoussis Shipping Group, which includes the world's largest privately held tanker fleet in terms of tonnage, has rebranded its tanker management arm. Mr. John A. Angelicoussis, Chairman and President, Age: 61

Company executives confirmed that Kristen Navigation, which was established in November 1992 as the traditionally dry cargo group moved heavily into tankers, has been renamed Maran Tankers Management. Kristen Navigation Inc was incorporated as a private limited company in Liberia, in April 1992.

The new name echoes Maran Gas Maritime, the company established five years ago by Angelicoussis to operate its new fleet of liquefied natural gas carriers.

As before, the group's dry bulk division continues as Anangel Maritime Services.

Communications sent to business partners and suppliers state that the change is purely for internal corporate purposes.

Despite the name change, "all existing personnel and procedures will remain in place without any change", the company said.

"It is due to consolidation and expansion," the tanker operation was occupying new premises to meetthe need for more space.

But he ruled out any new corporate unification of the tanker and gas fleets despite the name similarity. "It is nothing like that," he said. "Everything continues very much as before."

The mother group of Anangel is called Agelef Shipping Group Ltd.. It is managed by John Angelicoussis. The group has offices in Piraeus, London, Houston, Manila and Okpo, and operates more than 50 vessels, mainly bulk carriers and tankers. The two main management companies of the group are Anangel Shipping Enterprises, which operates about 25 bulk carriers, and Maran Tankers Management (Kristen Navigation) with some 30 tankers. Anangel-American Shipholdings Limited engages in the business of acquiring and operating ocean-going cargo vessels. As of May 2009, the company owned and operated twenty-one vessels: two multipurpose, seven handysize, seven Panamax, and five Capesize with a further two Panamax vessels on order. The company's vessels are owned or leased by separate Panamanian or Liberian corporations, all of which are wholly owned by the company. Its dry cargo fleet is managed by Anangel Shipping Enterprises S.A. The company's operations are conducted worldwide, primarily outside of the United States. It intends to focus its dry cargo operations in such a manner as to service the demands of energy related transportation. In May, the company announced the sale of the vessels: M.V. 'Anangel Millennium', M.V. 'Anangel Century', M. V. 'Anangel Afovos' (Hull No. 1139), and Hull No. 1144 to the Kanellakis family.


West Africa's Gulf of Guinea Robber Pirates

In 2009, these vessels and others were boarded by pirates bent on robbery, not vessel seizure, in West Africa's Gulf of Guinea: MT Front Chief , MV MOL Splendor, (FPSO) Histria Tiger, MV Bourbon Leda, MT Front Chief, MT Emirates Swan, MV Aristeas P, MT Aleyna Mercan, MV Reval, MV Anuket Ivory, MV Sevastopolskaya Bukhta, MV Tennei Maru, MV Duden, MV Pearl River, MT Abram Schulte, MV Saturnas.

On average, the Nigerian Navy hears of some 10 to 15 pirate attacks per month.
Some experts say that the waters of the Gulf of Guinea are at least as dangerous as those off the Somali coast, if not more so.

“The International Maritime Board reports any movement against ships on the Gulf of Aden, but you don’t have the same data from the Gulf of Guinea,”

In the Gulf of Guinea, Maritime Organization for West and Central Africa. Earlier this year provided for the creation of a regional coast guard. Significantly, it contains provisions for "hot pursuit" of pirates and smugglers even across borders and offshore exclusive economic zones.. .”In the not-too-distant future, piracy off the coast of West Africa could mean higher fuel prices for US consumers. While Nigeria itself represents only 3.1 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, the Gulf of Guinea, together with Angola and the waters off Congo, are expected to supply up to one-quarter of all the United States’ imported oil by 2015.
“Nigeria ranked second in attacks with 40 reported incidents including 27 vessels boarded, five hijackings and 39 crew members kidnapped. Approximately 100 unconfirmed incidents occurred in Nigeria.
“under-reporting from vessels involved in incidents in the Nigerian waters remains a great concern.”
Although it was learnt that the reported attacks were just the tip of the iceberg as many operators were reluctant to file reports due to commercial pressures or fear of reprisals.

“While only 20 attacks were officially reported to IMB in 2009, information received from external sources indicates that at least 50 per cent of attacks on vessels, mostly related to the oil industry, have gone unreported,” said the bureau.
“Thre were 13 reported and 24 unreported attacks in the second quarter of 2009, mainly “against vessels supporting the oil industry.” Incidents in Southeast Asia showed a two-fold increase between the first and second quarter, which Mukundan said was a “clear indication that piracy and robbery has the potential to escalate.”

Catalogue of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea in 2009:
• On January 4, gunmen in speedboats seized control of the French-owned fast supply intervention vessel MV Bourbon Leda as it sailed past Nigeria’s Bonny Island crude export terminal en route to Royal Dutch Shell’s Bonga offshore field. The crew of five Nigerians, two Ghanaians, one Cameroonian, and one Indonesian was held hostage for several days before being released in exchange for the payment of an undisclosed sum.

• after dusk by ten armed men while at anchor off Lagos. The captain was attacked before the assailants made off with cash and other valuables.

• January 17, the Bahamas-registered crude oil tanker MT Front Chief was attacked by marauders in speed boats, armed with automatic weapons and explosives, while the vessel was berthed at the Bonny Island terminal, where it was taking on a load. Fortunately, the grenades thrown by the attackers missed; unfortunately, the captain of the line tug used by the tanker was killed.

• January 19, the German cargo ship MV MOL Splendor, was boarded while anchored at Tema, Ghana. The robbers broke into a container and made off with the contents.

• On February 14, the Romanian-owned, Liberian-flagged floating storage and offloading unit (FPSO) Histria Tiger was boarded by more than a dozen masked pirates armed with automatic weapons as it lay anchored off Lagos. They took the boatswain hostage and forced him to lead them to the bridge where they opened fire, destroying the ship’s communication system. They then proceeded to rob the vessel and its crew.

• February 17, seaborne gunmen attacked Equatorial Guinea’s capital of Malabo, shooting their way as far as the presidential palace, before they were repelled by security forces.

• March 11, in the same port, another heavily armed gang boarded the Singapore-flagged chemical tanker MT Emirates Swan. The captain and a seaman were serious injured in the assault.

• April 19, while berthed in Lagos, the Liberian-flagged bulk carrier MV Aristeas P was boarded by armed men from two speed boats, who ransacked the ship’s stores.

• April 20, the Turkish-owned, Marshall Islands-flagged chemical tanker MT Aleyna Mercan was attacked by armed pirates some 50 nautical miles off the Nigerian coast where the boat was making a delivery to the French oil company Total. After robbing the vessel and its crew, the attackers took the captain and an engineer hostage as they escaped; the two were later released.

• May 21, the German-owned, St. Vincent and Grenadines-registered cargo ship MV Reval was boarded as it was sailing off the Nigerian coast. The armed attackers broke down the cabin doors of officers and crew, robbing them as well as the ship’s safe, before making their escape.

• June 6, crew of the Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier MV Nord Express drove off a group of armed robbers who were in the process of looting the ship’s stores while it lay at anchor off the port of Takoradi, Ghana.

• June 9, the British tanker MV Anuket Ivory was boarded in the early morning hours as it rode at anchor off Douala, Cameroon. The armed attackers disabled the communications equipment and robbed the vessel before escaping.

• The same day, sixteen armed men boarded and robbed the Ukrainian-owned, Panamanian-flagged cargo ship MV Sevastopolskaya Bukhta as it was likewise at anchor off Douala.

• June 10, the brand-new Panamanian-registered bulk carrier MV Tennei Maru was boarded and robbed by heavily armed robbers as it was anchored off the Nigerian coast.

• June 27, the Turkish-flagged bulk carrier MV Duden was attacked by pirates off Lagos. Three crew members were wounded by fire from the marauders.

• June 29, the Liberian-flagged bulk carrier MV Pearl River was robbed by armed men while anchored off Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

• July 12, likewise off Abidjan, the German-owned, Liberian-flagged tanker MT Abram Schulte was robbed by armed men.

• August 3, five crew members were kidnapped from the Lithuanian refrigerated cargo ship MV Saturnas as it was anchored off Nigeria.

• August 27, robbers boarded the Dutch chemical tanker MT Venezia D as it was berthed in Lagos and, threatening the duty watchman with a gun, managed to escape with part of the cargo.

• September 6, in Koki, Nigeria, more than fifty armed assailants stormed the Turkish-owned, Maltese-flagged tanker MT Erria Anne. As the crew took shelter, the robbers made off with the ship’s stores.
• September 7, nine heavily-armed pirates in a speed boat boarded and hijacked the St. Vincent and Grenadines-registered tug boat Jascon 40 sailing near Nigeria’s Bonny River.

• September 20, half a dozen armed pirates boarded the Antigua and Barbuda-registered refrigerated cargo ship MV Nova Galicia as it was steaming off the Bonny River.

• On October 10, Cameroonian military forces repelled an attack on the FV Rose Three, owned by Atlantic Shrimper Limited, Nigeria’s largest fisheries company, as the boat was anchored off the Bakassi Peninsula, which Nigeria recently yielded to its neighbor. Four attackers were killed, while three others were injured


Pirates’ success rate will drop?

Some shipping people privately say that the effects of piracy have been exaggerated. It may still be cheaper and more convenient to pay higher insurance fees and risk being attacked by pirates than to incur the extra cost of diverting vessels around the Cape of Good Hope.

Last year 22,000 ships passed safely through waters in range of Somali pirates, whereas actual attacks were in the low hundreds. The bureau also reckons that, as ships take more precautions, the pirates’ success rate will drop.

Muse the Pirate: Ship-1, Ship-2

Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, pleaded not guilty to an expanded indictment that includes new accusations. In March 2009, Muse, and others armed with firearms, boarded a ship (Ship-1) as it was navigating in the Indian Ocean. After boarding Ship-1, Muse and others threatened the captain of Ship-1 with a firearm; seized control of Ship-1; and held the captain and the crew of Ship-1 hostage on board Ship-1.

Furthermore, while on board Ship-1, Muse pointed a gun at one of the Ship-1 hostages and threatened to kill him. Muse also showed one of the hostages what appeared to be an improvised explosive device (IED). Muse placed the IED in the vicinity of the hostage, and indicated that if the authorities came the IED would explode and the hostage would be killed.

Then, in April 2009, Muse and others left Ship-1 on a small boat (the Skiff). When the Skiff returned to Ship-1, Ship-1 and the Skiff were made to rendezvous with another ship (Ship-2) that was then navigating in the Indian Ocean. After Ship-1 and the Skiff arrived in the vicinity of Ship-2, the captain of Ship-1 was ordered to pull Ship-1 up to Ship-2. Ship-1 was then attached to Ship-2. Muse and others held hostage, on board Ship-2, both the captain and the crew of Ship-1 and the captain and the crew of Ship-2. At the present time, the captain and the crew of Ship-2 continue to be held hostage on board Ship-2.

Muse and three other pirates later left Ship-2, and boarded the Maersk Alabama after shooting at the ship from their own boat. Each of the four pirates who boarded the Maersk Alabama, including Muse, was armed with a gun. Once on board, Muse,

One possible explanation for the new allegations: By including the earlier hijackings in the conspiracy, prosecutors may have paved the way for introducing Mr. Muse's alleged admission to one of the crews that he was 24 into evidence.

His father in Somalia told defense attorneys he was born November 20, 1993, meaning he would have been 15 at the time of the hijackings. However, the prosecution argued otherwise, saying Muse made statements suggesting he was older.


Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse: more charges in NYC

A Somali teenager extradited to New York last year on charges he attempted to hijack a U.S. ship in the Indian Ocean pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to taking part in two additional attacks. A federal indictment unsealed Tuesday in Manhattan accuses Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse (AHB'-dih-wah-lee AHB'-dih-kah-dihr moo-SAY') and others of boarding the two vessels and holding the crews at gunpoint in March and April. Authorities won't identify the ships, but say one is still being held hostage.


Maltese-flagged Ariana crew replaced

The Ariana ship crew, released from the pirate captivity, went ashore at the Oman port Salalah. Sailors arrived in the port who will replace the Ariana crew. The new crew came aboard the Ariana ship and accepted the ship,


Ariana: docking at Salalah Oman

The Ariana, freed by pirates after a ransom was paid, and which then sailed over 800 miles from its place of capture, anchored at a roadstead at the Omani port of Salalah on Jan. 3, 2010. Currently, the ship is undergoing permit registration procedures in order to enter the Omani port. Alloceans Shipping Co Ltd (Greece) ,the company operating the vessel had paid a ransom of $2.8 million. Lomar, a subsidiary of the Libra Group, recently announced the acquisition of 26 modern ships belonging to Allocean, The purchase of the shares of Allocean Ltd and the Allocean Charters group of companies, both subsidiaries of Allco Finance Group, which entered administration and receivership in November last year. Based in New York, George Logothetis, age 34, has principal executive responsibility for the Libra Group. Lomar Shipping is the Logothetis family's London based shipping company. Alloceans Shipping Co Ltd was incorporated as a private limited company in Panama in 1971. Ariana is a Maltese-flagged ship.


DIS Brigit Maersk hires escort against pirates

Maersk hired a Tanzanian naval boat to escort its Danish International RegisterBrigit Maersk tanker to an East African port after an attack on Maersk Regensberg in December 2008.

"We only paid salaries and bunker (fuel) for the Tanzanians. It was a one-off," Maersk spokesman Michael Storgaard said. [Marine Protector-class of 87-foot coastal patrol boats? Tanzania has two] Maersk hired the boat through a Danish security firm in December 2008.


Pramoni: tracked to Eyl

M/V PRAMONI Jan. 4 had arrived and anchored off the pirate stronghold east of Eyl, Puntland, Somalia.

Pramoni: part of Norway's Platou Finance

The Singaporean-flagged chemical tanker, the Pramoni, which was highjacked by Somali pirates on January 1st, is owned by a Norwegian shipping group, and leased by an Indonesian company.

The ship, managed by Platou Finance in Oslo was seized in the Gulf of Aden while en route to India, and this was the the first attack by Somali pirates this year. The DH fully stainless steel ’Pramoni’ (19,990dwt-built 2008) was acquired by Platou K/S for 52.75 $m, including 12 years BBC to Berlian Laju at 15,100$/day, with purchase option.

Among the 20,000 deadweight-ton vessel’s 24-man crew are 17 Indonesian nationals, five Chinese, a Nigerian and a Vietnamese,

RS Platou Finance is an independent company within the Platou Group utilising the full potential of having close contact with shipbrokers, ship-owners, ship managers, bankers, lawyers and consultants worldwide. Oslo, Singapore, Aberdeen, London, Houston, Moscow, Lagos, Copenhagen, Shanghai, Istanbul, Geneva and Rio de Janeiro. Our multinational staff numbers about 280 persons.

Berlian Laju Tankers (BLT) reported Q3'09 EBITDA just slightly below our estimates. While peers have reported double digit declines in chemical tanker earnings q/q, BLT's rates were only down 3% likely due to its robust operation and limited dependence on the product tanker market.

* Net revenues were USD 99m just as we had estimated in our Shipping Quarterly. EBITDA came in at USD 48m vs. our USD 51m. Deviation due to USD 3m higher costs evenly distributed on charter hire and G&A. Vessel opex remained unchanged at a low $4,100/day on average.
* We calculate that time-charter equivalent earnings were down only 3% on average compared to Q2. This is much better performance than peers which have reported declines of 19% (Odfjell) and 15% (Eitzen Chemical) due to their exposure to the weak product tanker market. BLT has 63 chemical tankers in operations mainly in the regional, stainless steel segment.
* No news about the ongoing take-over of Camillo Eitzen. We make marginal changes to our operating estimates while increase our interest expense assumption somewhat. Based on our estimates, BLT trades attractively at 80% of NAV and 7.6x 2010e EBITDA (based on 5% higher chemical rates y/y).


Singapore-flagged Pramoni seized by pirates

A Singapore-registered chemical tanker, M.T. PRAMONI, was boarded by pirates while transiting the Gulf of Aden, according to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA). The Pramoni is owned by Singapore-based GBLT Shipmanagement Pte.
"A distress alert was sent by the vessel at about 1730hrs on 1 Jan 2010 (Singapore time) while at position Lat 12° 30'N Long 47° 17'E," said the MPA in a statement.

The vessel, with a crew consists of 17 Indonesians, five Chinese, one Nigerian and one Vietnamese, was on its way from Genoa, Italy to Kandla, India.

Type of ship: Tankship
IMO Number: 9408803
MMSI Number: 565925000
Flag: Singapore
Callsign: 9VLH7
Length: 147.0m
Beam: 24.0m

Pramoni/Puspawati: 19,999 dwt blt 08 Shin Kurushima. Sold region USD 108,500,000 en bloc to Atlantis Shipping, sale incl 12 years BBB at 14,300 per day.
06/08 Pramoni Tank 19999 08 Kurushima MAN-B&W IMO II/III 12y bb $14300 54.2 . Turkish Atlantis
Pramoni 20,000 2008 tanker [from]BLT, Indonesia bb back [buyer]Atlantis Shipping, Oslo
Pramoni 19,900 2008 tanker [from] BLT, Indonesia USD 52 m bb [buyer]KS T Klaveness, Oslo

Pramoni 19,998 2008 [from] Pareto Finance 52.75 Incl 12 yr bb back to Gold Bridge Shipping


Arctic Sea docks in Kotka, NBI to examine vessel

The notorious cargo ship Arctic Sea docked in the port of Kotka 30 Dec 09. The National Bureau of Investigation is to examine the vessel, which it considers a crime scene.

The Arctic Sea, a Finish-owned Maltese-registered freight vessel, which was the centre of a bizarre hijack drama earlier this year, arrived in the Mussalo harbour with a load of 4,200 tonnes of lime from the south of France.

According to Sergei Kurashin, the operator of the Finnish Solchart Management shipping line, the ship will continue to be unloaded until Jan.4.
After that, the Arctic Sea will complete the circle, returning to the port of Pietarsaari, where it will pick up a load of sawn timber, which it is to take to Algeria.
It was on such a voyage in July that the ship was commandeered by a group of eight armed men in a rubber boat off the Swedish coast. The hijackers held the ship for nearly a month, until they were overpowered by the Russian navy off Cape Verde off the west coast of Africa.

While it is docked in Finland, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) plan to examine the vessel, says Rabbe von Hertzen, who has headed the NBI’s investigation in the matter
The ship has already been examined by Russian, Maltese, and Algerian officials, none of whom found traces of any suspicious material or high radiation levels.
Kai Naumanen, CEO of Rets Timber, which provided the cargo for the previous trip, and the new one, says that the hijackers never touched the cargo.
Solchart Management CEO Viktro Matvejev says that the only possible hiding place on the ship for rumoured contraband would have been the ballast tanks, which were full of water.

During the hijacking, the Arctic Sea had a different crew. The members are now back home in Archangel.
The crew said that the hijackers had kept them locked inside their cabins. They also constantly wore masks and gloves.
One of the sailors was put in a harness and forced to paint a new name on the hull, indicating that the ship was a North Korean vessel, the Jon Jin 2.
The crew members said that they had been beaten, and that the hijackers staged a mock execution.

But see: story

The twists and turns over the months: 1 2 3 4 5 6

In May, 2009, "Russia's customs service said Thursday it uncovered a ring of active and retired military officers suspected of involvement in stealing millions of dollars worth of missile components and smuggling them out of Russia.

The Federal Customs Service said it has detained a dozen suspects and confiscated about 22 tons of missile components intended for smuggling.

It said that the criminal ring had smuggled parts of S-75, S-125, S-200 and S-300 air defense missile systems.

The customs agency said that the ring included Russian military officers on active duty along with some retirees and citizens of Belarus and Ukraine. It said the suspects were believed to work with senior officers of the military's air defense forces stationed in Russia's northwest, but would not give any names.

The information available to YLE is that Russian, Swedish, Maltese and Finnish officials closely monitored the movements of the vessel when located and the Russian Navy implemented the rescue operation. YLE

One outstanding mystery is why, if the ship was hijacked on 24 July, none of the crew was able to get the word out before contact was lost a few days later. "The vessel had all the necessary modern means of communication and emergency alarms, and was located in waters where ordinary mobile telephones work," said Mikhail Voitenko, editor of the Russian maritime journal Sovfrakht. "To hijack the vessel so that no one makes a peep – can you imagine how that could be? I can't." Mr Voitenko is one of the few commentators who have provided a trickle of information about the ship. He and other Russian experts have aired suspicions that the 98-metre freighter was carrying an undeclared cargo and that high-level state interests were involved, but so far nobody has been able to provide details. Independent

Dmitri Bartenev , a rhib pilgrim picked up by the Arctic Sea on 24 July, said the eight pilgrims were testing out a navigation system before starting environmental work off the Estonian coast. There were four Estonians, two Latvians and two Russians. [On 28 July Solchart Finland reported the "boarding "- Russian Navy deployed 12 August] On 17 August, when the Russian naval frigate, the Ladny, came alongside. The Arctic Sea's crew had spotted the heavily armed vessel two days previously [15 August - press said found on the 14th ] and the crew broke out the vodka again. "We spent the last two nights on board getting drunk with the crew." [Bartenev had previous arrests for possessing amphetamines and drink driving.]

The level of detail given in this account is striking and it is likely to fuel suspicions that the eight were set up to try to save Russia the embarrassment of explaining what the Arctic Sea was really carrying. Guardian Telegraph