Somalia Pirates Hijack Norean Ship, Then Decide it Isn’t Worth it and Turn Themselves In
December 20, 2012
By Nate Thayer
Somalia pirates hijacked a North Korean ship on Tuesday only to have second thoughts after the hijackers decided it wasn’t worth the hassle or effort and have turned around and now headed back to a Somalia port to turn themselves in.
Sources told Reuters that security forces guarding the North Korean-flagged vessel were involved in the hijacking of the ship and its 33 crew on the vessel late Tuesday night.
According to local sources, 8 soldiers decided to hijack the ship and after traveling for several hours, the hijackers argued amongst themselves over their decision, some of the men regretted the hijacking. After heated debates, the rogue security forces decided to return the ship and contacted Puntland security officials of their decision.
The MV Daesan, a North Korean ship with a load of cement was seized by Somalia authorities in November after the cargo of cement was rejected by importers in Mogadishu who claimed that it was of inferior quality saying it was wet and unusable. The Somalia purchasers refused to pay or take possession of the order.
The North Korean ship then allegedly dumped the rejected cement at sea.
The ship and its crew of 33 was seized, impounded, and fined last month by Puntland autonomous region authorities on Nov. 17. It has remained in custody and the fine unpaid.
Puntland security officials say two coast guard boats are chaperoning the MV Daesan back into Puntland waters where the case over the MV Daesan dumped 5,000 metric tons of cement 13 nautical miles east of Bossaso coast is still ongoing at the local court.
North Korea, one of the most isolated and poorest countries in the world having its goods rejected as inferior by another of the poorest most rogue nations, Somalia, and then having even its pirates decide that it was not worth the effort to hijack a North Korean ship, was not reported by official Pyongyang media.
The Gulf of Aden has been the focal point of sea piracy in recent years, forcing the ships to stop and pirates boarding, taking the crews hostage, tow the vessels into Somali ports and demand millions of dollars in ransom.
About 3.4 million barrels per day of oil flowed through the choke point between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden off of Somalia last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
About 136 hostages taken in the Indian Ocean off Somalia are still being held captive, but the number of hijackings of ships has dropped to seven in the first 11 months of this year compared to 24 in the whole of 2011. NATO records show a fall in pirate activity with no ships hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia for the last six months. NATO is one of the international bodies providing international warships to provide security along the Somali coasts.
Attempted hijackings are also down, suggesting that pirates are concluding that the risk is not worth the effort. Unsuccessful attempts dropped to 36 this year, from 189 in 2010.
A spokesman for the International Maritime Bureau in London was quoted as saying that the ships pirates are able to hijack are often owned by companies that cannot afford to pay a ransom to free the crew.
“The business model is breaking,” Cyrus Mody said, but he noted that piracy seems to be rising on Africa’s West Coast.
The establishment of a new Somalia government, including the election of a parliament and a President, and the appointment of a Prime Minister and a cabinet, has played a major role in decreasing piracy activities. Somalia military forces have recaptured of a number of the ports along the Somali coast in recent months. Somalia’s Supreme Court is reported to have said that pirates seized by international security forces can now be tried inside the country.