Norwegian ship fends off attack
August 3, 2010
Pirates have tried to hijack another vessel off Somalia, this time a Norwegian chemical tanker run by Odfjell of Bergen. The shipowning firm’s chief executive told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that the attack was “dramatic and unpleasant.”
Seven pirates tried to board the large vessel Bow Saga in the Odfjell Seachem fleet, as it sailed through the Gulf of Aden Tuesday morning, confirmed Odfjell managing director Jan Hammer.
The vessel’s crew, all from the Philippines, sent out an emergency call and started aiming high-pressure hoses at the pirates and dousing them with water after they pirates had shot at the vessel’s bridge.
“The crew did what we’ve agreed upon and expect, among other things maneuvering the vessel to create rough seas and make it difficult for (the pirates) to come on board,” Hammer told NRK.
A division of the European Union’s Navfor maritime security forces in the area heard the emergency call and ordered the nearest battleship in the area, the Spanish frigate SPS Victoria, to the scene. It responded immediately, with one of its helicopters already in the air when the Navfor call came.
The Spanish helicopter arrived on the scene and could help the Bow Saga’s crew defend their ship within 10 minutes of the emergency call going out. The pirates eventually gave up their hijacking effort and tried to flee, but after warning shots fired from both the helicopter and the Spanish battleship, they surrendered and were taken into custody, to face charges either in Kenya or Norway.
Hammer said Odfjell’s ships only sail in the area now when they know there is military protection in place. “And it worked very well,” he told NRK. “The helicopter proved especially effective.”
He added, though, that the pirate attack was “dramatic, and it was unpleasant. No one was hurt, but of course they’re all a bit shaky after such an episode.”