Sea Transportation: Never Leave Empty Handed



January 30, 2011: Here's a strange one. On January 12th, Somali pirates seized a small (1780 ton) Danish freighter (MV Leopard), carrying weapons and ammunition (to Malaysia), 400 kilometers off Oman (near the entrance to the Persian Gulf). But the crew (two Danes and four Filipinos), disabled the engines and radioed for help. So the pirates were unable to take the ship, and its valuable (especially to Somalis) cargo back to Somalia. Undeterred, the pirates abandoned the Leopard, and made off with the crew. A Turkish warship soon showed up, found no one on board, and called for a tug, as the engines could not be fixed.

The pirates were using a hijacked high seas Taiwanese fishing vessel as a mother ship. These mother ships often have some of their original crew aboard, to keep the ship functioning. Pirates can also use their captive sailors on the mother ship to help get sailors out of safe rooms (which the MV Leopard may have had). The pirates threaten to kill the sailors they already have, if the sailors in the safe room do not come out. Until the Leopard crew is heard from, we won't know exactly what happened there.

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