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.

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