Piracy sets off more alarms

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The Norwegian Shipowners’ Association was calling for more state help to battle pirates this week, after another Norwegian-owned vessel was attacked off the coast of east Africa.

The bitumen carrier Asphalt Venture, with a crew of 15 Indians on board, was seized by pirates and is believed to have been taken to Somalia. The vessel was reportedly sailing in ballast between Mombasa in Kenya and Durban in South Africa when the attack occurred.

It’s the latest in a long line of ships attacked by pirates off eastern Africa, who currently are reportedly holding more than 20 vessels and demanding ransom payments.

European and US forces have been mounting anti-piracy efforts in the area and Norway has taken part, but currently has no military vessels assigned to the area. That upsets the shipowners’ association.

“The situation regarding these hijackings worries us enormously,” Sturla Henriksen of the association told newspaper Aftenposten. “Norwegian shipowners have daily sailings through this area, and we can’t understand how a leading shipping nation like Norway isn’t currently participating in the international effort.”

Defense Minister Grete Faremo noted that Norway contributed one of its frigates to the effort last year and has had officers on board a Swedish vessel in the area. She said countries are taking turns manning the effort, and that Norway would consider contributing again.

The Asphalt Venture is owned by a unit of the Oslo-based Blystad Group but currently is on long-term charter so the Norwegian owners are not involved in its management or operations.

Views and News staff