Who said pirates don’t exist anymore? Who said they’re only a far, far away memory of our childhood?
Pirates may not exist anymore as we remember them in kids stories, but they are more than actual.
A French three-mast, Le Ponant, coming back from the Seychelles without passengers, was attacked in the Indian ocean. To be more precise, pirates seized control of the French luxury yacht in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia’s coast, on Friday.
Francois Fillon, French Prime Minister, said this was a blatant act of piracy. He added that the Defense and Foreign Ministries were mobilized to act as quickly as possible to win the freedom of the hostages, the 30 members of the crew. Some of the crew members are French, but the company CMA-CGM, a French maritime transport company, declined to identify any other crew member nationalities.
The Prime Minister, in his speech while in Brussels, didn’t mention that France has considerable military resources in the region such as a base in Djibouti and a naval flotilla circulating in the Indian Ocean.
Jen-Emmanuel Sauvee, director of La Compagnie des Iles du Ponant, said French authorities are handling the situation. He added, from the city of Marseille, where his subsidiary of CMA-CGM is based, that the company did not want to comment further so as not to endanger the crew members held hostage.
The 88 meter luxury boat, featuring four decks, indoor and outdoor luxury lounges as well as two restaurants, was next scheduled to for a 10 days-7 nights trip starting April 19 th and going from Alexandria, Egypt to Valletta, Malta. Prices started, without taxes or air fares, at 2 205 euros, or 3.465 US$.
More than 24 ships were seized by pirates last year off Somalia’s coast.
Denmark ’s government, in order to win the release in august of a Danish cargo ship crew, had to pay a ransom. The cargo was hijacked by Somali pirates two months earlier.
In order to try to combat piracy in the region, the US Navy has led international patrols. The navy doesn’t hesitate to open fire, just like the USS Porter did last year to destroy pirate skiffs tied to a Japanese tanker.
It might help to know that Somalia, wracked by a decade of violence and anarchy, does not have its own navy. Since its creation in 2004, helped by the UN, the transitional government struggles to assert control.
Piracy and pirates attacks have increased more than 10% in 2007, marking the first increase in three years.
Paris has now established the contact with the pirates that took the control of the boat on Friday. A meeting took place on Sunday with the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, to evoke the situation.
Le Ponant was heading towards Puntland, 800km north of Mogadisicio.
The crusade ship was navigating, since its capture, off somalia’s coast, heading to an unknown destination. French Minister of Defense, Hervé Morin, said: “we are still in that pirates’ phase that navigates and that we follow from distance with military means. That helps us have a perfect observation and knowledge of the situation. The boat was traced by a military ship, the Commandant Bouan. Hervé Morin added that there was no request for a ransom until now.
The French ship-owner, CMA-CGM, has revealed some information concerning the crew, without giving any detail on how he received the information. It is made of 22 French and some Ukrainian. Ship owner said the crew is safe and sound, they’re all doing fine. One of the sailor’s wife said the company told them the crew was well treated, they had breakfast together and took a shower. She added it was a proof that they are fine.
Prime Minister François Fillon underlined the fact that the priority was the crew’s security. Mr Morin explained he didn’t have details on the course of the attack. However, he mentioned that pirates often attacked from little boats, without excluding the presence of a bigger boat from which the pirates could carry out the assault.
We are still waiting now for more information.