Hijacked late last month in the , the MV Iran Deyanat remains moored offshore in Somali waters and inaccessible for inspection. Its declared cargo consists of minerals and industrial products - from LongWarJournal
On Thursday, pirates seized the Ukrainian ship Faina
MOGADISHU, Somalia - A U.S. destroyer off the coast of Somalia closed in Saturday on a hijacked Ukrainian ship loaded with tanks and ammunition, watching it to ensure the pirates who seized it do not try to remove any cargo or crew.
As Russian and American ships pursued the hijackers of the Ukrainian-operated vessel, pirates seized another ship off Somalia's coast, an international anti-piracy group said.
The Greek tanker with a crew of 19 is carrying refined petroleum from Europe to the Middle East. It was ambushed Friday in the Gulf of Aden, said Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center based in Malaysia. He said pirates chased and fired at the ship before boarding it.
In Somalia, a man claiming to be spokesman of the pirates holding the Ukrainian ship said the hijackers want $35 million to release the vessel. But there was no way to immediately verify his claim that he represented the pirates.
Pastorius question: With a U.S. Destroyer watching, what possible bargaining chip could they have in these negotations? If it was just a load of petroleum, we could simply jump them as soon as they leave the ship and take the money back, right? Would we pay pirates $35 million for a load of oil?
On Thursday, pirates seized the Ukrainian ship Faina en route to Kenya with 33 Russian-built T-72 tanks and a substantial quantity of ammunition and spare parts. Russia's navy said Friday it had dispatched a warship to the area,
and the United States said American naval ships were tracking the Ukrainian ship with special concern because of the weaponry on board.
The hijackings were the latest in a series of audacious maritime attacks off the coast of Somalia, a war-torn country that has been without a functioning government since 1991.
A U.S. defense official said the destroyer USS Howard is pursuing the hijacked Ukrainian vessel and is now within a few thousand yards of it. The hijacked ship is anchored a few miles off the Somalia coast, said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the situation.
The USS Howard's Web site says it is equipped for combat operations at sea with surface-to-air missiles, Tomahawk cruise missiles, antisubmarine rockets, torpedoes, and a five-inch rapid-fire deck gun.
Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua said the Faina had not yet docked at any port and was still at sea.
A man who spoke to the Associated Press in Somalia by telephone and claimed to be a spokesman for the pirates said they were seeking a ransom.
"We want the Kenyan government to negotiate with us about a $35 million ransom we want for the release of the ship and the cargo without any other intervention," said the man, who identified himself as Ali Yare Abdulkadir. "If not, we will do what we can and off load the small arms and take them away."
Abdulkadir, who local residents in the northeastern Somali region of Puntland said represented the pirates, declined to reveal his whereabouts. He said the ship is somewhere along Somalia's northeastern coast and warned against any military action to liberate it.
"Any one who tries it will be responsible for the consequences," Abdulkadir said.
A Russian Web site posted what it said was an audio recording of a telephone conversation with the Ukrainian ship's first mate. He said the hijackers are seeking a ransom and have anchored close to the Somali shore.