Iranian Navy Frees Ship from Somali Pirates [UPDATE]

Iranian Navy Frees Ship from Somali Pirates [UPDATE]

By Mike Schuler On April 9, 2012 M/V Xianghuamen. (c) V. Tonic via MarineTraffic.com Iran’s Navy has once again flexed its muscles in the fight against piracy, reportedly freeing a Chinese cargo ship and its 28 crew hijacked last week in the Gulf of Oman. As gCaptain reported on Friday, the cargo ship, identified as the Panamanian-flagged and Chinese-owned Xianghuamen, was successfully hijacked by Somali pirates on Friday morning in the Sea of Oman near Iran’s southern port of Chabahar with Iranian warships in hot pursuit. Now media reports are indicating that pirates actually surrendered as result of pressure from the Iranian navy, and possibly in part due to a mechanical malfunction. China’s Xinhua news has the story: Nine Somali pirates climbed onto the cargo ship by their own ladders, fired shots on the ship and seized the Chinese crew members on board. Two Iranian naval warships participating in the rescue operation followed the vessel and ordered the pirates to surrender. The pirates later threw their weapons into the sea and surrendered to the Iranian navy. The hijacked cargo ship’s engine was damaged and is in repair. Later the ship will head for the Iranian port of Gask, 70 miles (about 112 km) away from where the hijacking occurred and 200 miles (about 322 km) away from the vessel’s destination. The incident is the second such case involving the release of a Somali pirated vessel at the hands of the Iranian Navy since the end of March. Previously, the Iranian-owned bulk carrier M/V Eglantine was freed after just one week in captivity when a team of Iranian commandos stormed the vessel during a 36 hour operation that resulted in the arrest of up to 12 Somali pirates.  Following the operation, Iran’s Naval Commander, Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, told Iran’s PressTV that Iran’s navy has an astounding 11,000 men and 19 vessels in the Indian Ocean conducting counter pirate operations. Here’s the video of Sayyari’s statements regarding their counter-piracy operations following the release of the M/V Eglantine: httpv://gcaptain.com/iranian-navy-frees-ship-somali/?44129   UPDATE: China’s Xinhua news agency has this update about the operation that freed the Xianghuamen. Later the pirates ordered the crew members to sail the ship for the sea off Somalia when one Iranian naval warship requested several times the cargo ship to stop.The pirates ignored the requests, keeping sailing the vessel and asking Meng to reply to the Iranian warship that the crew members of Xianghuamen were hijacked and safe.“If the Iranian warship continues to order the freighter to stop, the safety of the crew members will be under threat,” Meng said, citing the pirates.Pointing guns at the crewmen and urging the Iranian warship to stay 20 miles away from Xianghuamen by threatening otherwise they would punish the seized crew members, the pirates required Meng to tell the Iranian warship that there were 22 pirates instead of nine actually. The Iranian warship ignored the warning and continued to follow the cargo ship. After capturing the communication signals between Xianghuamen and the Iranian warship, another cargo ship nearby asked Meng to report in Chinese the exact number of pirates on board. The English-speaking pirates could not understand Chinese. “In this way we finally sent related information that helped the later rescue operations successfully to the outside world,” said Li Shengming, the chief engineer. At around 5:00 pm (1230 GMT) the Iranian warship exchanged fire with the pirates. Five crew members shut down the engine system of the vessel and jumped into the sea. The angry pirates demanded the remaining crew members to restart the engine system but they failed, because only three of the five crew members who jumped into the sea knew how to restore the engine system. After being beaten by the pirates for inability to restart the engine system, captain He also jumped into the sea. As the vessel could not sail forward, the nine Somali pirates got nervous under Iranian warship’s firing. They finally threw their weapons into the sea and surrendered to the Iranian navy.

Rescued crewmen recount experience in Somali hijacking

Updated: 2012-04-08 13:15
(Xinhua)
BANDAR ABBAS, Iran - "It is the most scary moment in my life when the Iranian navy wams exchanging fire with the Somali pirates," Meng Qingchang, the second mate of the rescued freighter Xianghuamen, told Xinhua on Saturday. The Panama-registered cargo ship, belonging to Nanjing Ocean Shipping Company in eastern China, was hijacked on Friday morning, at about 8:40 am local time (0410 GMT), by nine Somali pirates in the Sea of Oman near Iran's southern port of Chabahar.Later on the day, concerted efforts of the Chinese and Iranian governments led to the successful rescue of all 28 Chinese crew members.A five-member delegation from the Chinese embassy in Tehran, headed by Chinese ambassador Yu Hongyang, got aboard the cargo ship off Iran's southern port city of Bandar Abbas on Saturday afternoon to visit the rescued crew.The crew members told Xinhua reporters travelling with the Chinese diplomats their heartquake moments when being held hostage by the pirates."We were extremely frightened and 27 of us were hiding in the controlling cabin when the pirates began to break open the doors," said Xu Hongbing, the chief motorman on board."Finally, the pirates tried to break the last of the four doors of the controlling cabin after the first three doors were broken," he said.In order to ensure safety and not to anger the pirates, the crew opened the last door of the controlling cabin and were seized.After identifying the captain He Feng and forcing him to provide the crewmen list, the pirates found one crew member was missing.The pirates wielding axes coerced Meng into locating the missing 28th crew member, Zhang Yong, who was found in the incinerator. Later the pirates ordered the crew members to sail the ship for the sea off Somalia when one Iranian naval warship requested several times the cargo ship to stop. The pirates ignored the requests, keeping sailing the vessel and asking Meng to reply to the Iranian warship that the crew members of Xianghuamen were hijacked and safe."If the Iranian warship continues to order the freighter to stop, the safety of the crew members will be under threat," Meng said, citing the pirates. Pointing guns at the crewmen and urging the Iranian warship to stay 20 miles away from Xianghuamen by threatening otherwise they would punish the seized crew members, the pirates required Meng to tell the Iranian warship that there were 22 pirates instead of nine actually.The Iranian warship ignored the warning and continued to follow the cargo ship.After capturing the communication signals between Xianghuamen and the Iranian warship, another cargo ship nearby asked Meng to report in Chinese the exact number of pirates on board. The English-speaking pirates could not understand Chinese. "In this way we finally sent related information that helped the later rescue operations successfully to the outside world," said Li Shengming, the chief engineer. At around 5:00 pm (1230 GMT) the Iranian warship exchanged fire with the pirates. Five crew members shut down the engine system of the vessel and jumped into the sea.The angry pirates demanded the remaining crew members to restart the engine system but they failed, because only three of the five crew members who jumped into the sea knew how to restore the engine system.After being beaten by the pirates for inability to restart the engine system, captain He also jumped into the sea.As the vessel could not sail forward, the nine Somali pirates got nervous under Iranian warship's firing. They finally threw their weapons into the sea and surrendered to the Iranian navy.Li Guwen, the only crew member injured in the exchange of fire, said a stray bullet fired by Somali pirates grazed his head."I was scared by the sound of firing, and I even didn't know that I was hurt until my colleges saw my bleeding head," he said.The six crew members who jumped into the sea were later rescued by the Iranian naval warship. They spent one night in the warship before being sent back to Xianghuamen cargo ship."They (Iranian navy) treated us well, providing us with clean and dry clothes. We were served the same food as they had," Li Chaoqun, one of the crew members who jumped into the sea, told Xinhua.  

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Tagged with: iranpiracyvessel released About The Author

Mike Schuler

After graduating the Catholic University of America in 2005 with a B.S.B.A. in Finance, Mike went on to Tahoe to help with the launch of gCaptain's sister site, UnofficialNetworks.com. In June of 2008 Mike joined gCaptain.com as the first full-time employee in charge of the day-to-day operations of gCaptain.com and Unofficial Networks, LLC.

Iranian-Owned Bulker Freed from Pirate Control after Iran’s Navy Launches Raid [UPDATE]

By gCaptain Staff On April 3, 2012   MV Eglantine, previously the Iran Gilan, Image via shipspotter.com Both Somalia Report and the Tehran Times are reporting that the M/V Eglantine, a Bolivian-flagged and Iranian-owned bulk carrier hijacked by Somali pirates just over a week ago, has been freed from pirate control. According to the reports, the vessel was freed after a team of Iranian commandos stormed the vessel, capturing as many as 12 pirates in the raid and freeing both the vessel and hostages. The Tehran Times, citing a public statement made by an Iranian Navy official, said the vessel was released after 36 hour operation launched from the Iranian navy destroyer, Jamaran, and adds that the pirates have since been transferred to Iranian soil. The M/V Englantine was hijacked on March 26 approximately 200 nm southwest of Minicoy Island, India while carrying a cargo of sugar from Brazil to Iran.  The status of the 23 crewmembers onboard when the vessel was attacked is unknown at this time. The 63,400 dwt M/V Englantine is now sailing towards the Omani Port of Salalah, reports Somalia Report. UPDATE: According to Iran’s Naval Commander (and Iran’s PressTV), Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, Iran’s navy has over 11,000 men and 19 vessels in the Indian Ocean to counter pirate attacks and has received the coveted “Strategic Defence Award” from the IMO.  Check out the video below:   Via Eaglespeak

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Tagged with: eglantineiranpiracyvessel released About The Author

gCaptain Staff

gCaptain is the top-visited maritime and offshore industry news blog in the world. Since 2006, gCaptain has proven to be a highly effective platform for information sharing and source for up-to-date and relevant news for industry professionals worldwide. If you enjoyed this article, please share it! t Ship’

Navy Anti-Piracy Drones Grounded After “Unrelated Mishaps”

By gCaptain Staff On April 10, 2012   A MQ-8B Fire Scout UAV hovers over the flight deck of the guided-missile frigate in the Atlantic Ocean. (U.S. Navy Photo) The U.S. Navy said today that it is grounding its anti-piracy fleet of helicopter drones following two recent but “unrelated operational mishaps”. According to the a statement, both incidents in question involved MQ-8B Fire Scout, an autonomous and unmanned helicopter drone used by the U.S. armed forces. On March 30, a MQ-8B Fire Scout operating off the USS Simpson, which currently on deployment off the coast of West Africa and in the Mediterranean in support of US and allied operations, was ditched at sea after the system used to lock onto the ship for landing failed. Later on April 6th, a second incident occurred when an MQ-8B operating in northern Afghanistan crashed while conducting a routine surveillance mission in support of Regional Command North. The cause of the crash is unknown at this time. In both cases no one was injured and the Navy is conducting a thorough investigation of both incidents. Since 2006, the MQ-8B Fire Scout has accumulated over 5,000 flight hours with more than 3,000 flight hours tallied during operational deployments. Fire Scout has played a significant role in multiple operations including three counter-piracy actions, a search-and-seizure operation, support of successful transits of the Strait of Hormuz; completion of a special operations proof of concept; and use as an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance asset for Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya. As a result of the mishaps, the Navy say it has temporarily suspended Fire Scout flight operations for 14 vehicles while system performance and operational procedures are reviewed.

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Tagged with: anti-piracyU.S. Navyuav About The Author

gCaptain Staff

gCaptain is the top-visited maritime and offshore industry news blog in the world. Since 2006, gCaptain has proven to be a highly effective platform for information sharing and source for up-to-date and relevant news for industry professionals worldwide.  

Pirates, Beware: Navy’s Smart Robocopters Will Spy You in the Crowd

By gCaptain Staff On April 9, 2012 By Grace Jean, Office of Naval Research   Autonomous Fire Scout UAV. Photo: U.S. Navy ARLINGTON, Va.— Navy unmanned aircraft will be able to distinguish small pirate boats from other vessels when an Office of Naval Research (ONR)-funded sensor starts airborne tests this summer, officials said last week. Called the Multi-Mode Sensor Seeker (MMSS), the sensor is a mix of high-definition cameras, mid-wave infrared sensors and laser-radar (LADAR) technology. It will be placed on a robotic helicopter called Fire Scout. Carrying advanced automatic target recognition software, the sensor prototype will allow Fire Scout to autonomously identify small boats on the water, reducing the workload of Sailors operating it from control stations aboard Navy ships. “Sailors who control robotic systems can become overloaded with data, often sifting through hours of streaming video searching for a single ship,” said Ken Heeke, program officer in ONR’s Naval Air Warfare and Weapons Department. “The automatic target recognition software gives Fire Scout the ability to distinguish target boats in congested coastal waters using LADAR, and it sends that information to human operators, who can then analyze those vessels in a 3-D picture.” Navy-developed target recognition algorithms aboard Fire Scout will exploit the 3-D data collected by the LADAR, utilizing a long-range, high-res, eye-safe laser. The software compares the 3-D imagery to vessel templates or schematics stored in the system’s memory. “The 3-D data gives you a leg up on target identification,” said Dean Cook, principal investigator for the MMSS program at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD). “Infrared and visible cameras produce 2-D pictures, and objects in them can be difficult to automatically identify. With LADAR data, each pixel corresponds to a 3-D point in space, so the automatic target recognition algorithm can calculate the dimensions of an object and compare them to those in a database.” The algorithms have been successfully tested in shore-based systems against vessels at sea. The software is being integrated into a BRITE Star II turret by a team from NAWCWD, Raytheon, FLIR Systems, BAE Systems and Utah State University for airborne testing aboard a manned test helicopter. The flight assessment will be conducted against groups of approximately seven small boats in a military sea range off the California coast later this summer. Via ONR

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Tagged with: piracyU.S. Navyuav About The Author

gCaptain Staff

gCaptain is the top-visited maritime and offshore industry news blog in the world. Since 2006, gCaptain has proven to be a highly effective platform for information sharing and source for up-to-date and relevant news for industry professionals worldwide.      
 
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