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Old 06-04-2008, 18:34   #1
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French yacht seized by Somali pirates

BBC NEWS | Africa | Contact made with yacht pirates

France says it has made contact with Somali pirates who seized a luxury French yacht and its crew of about 30.

Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said everything would be done to avoid bloodshed and did not rule out paying a ransom to free the crew.

The Ponant was boarded by pirates in the Gulf of Aden on Friday and is now reported to be anchored off Somalia. There are no passengers aboard.
Somali coastal waters are among the world's most hazardous.

More than 25 ships were seized by pirates there in 2007.

"We've made contact and the matter could last a long time," Mr Kouchner told France Inter radio.

French Defence Minister Herve Morin earlier said a military operation to free the crew would only be attempted if their safety could be guaranteed.

Stylish cruising

The French coastal frigate, Le Commandant Bouan, has been diverted from Nato duties to track the yacht and a French military plane based in Djibouti has overflown the vessel.

A Canadian helicopter on the HMCS Charlottetown also was taking part in the operation, the Associated Press (AP) said.

Officials in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, in north-eastern
Somalia, said the Ponant had anchored nearby.

The French company that owns the vessel, CMA-CGM, said on Sunday that its crew were thought to be unharmed.

The 850-tonne three-masted yacht was sailing back to the Mediterranean from the Seychelles when it was seized with its crew of 22 French nationals and 10 others - thought to be Ukrainians and Koreans.

The hijacked yacht can take up to 64 passengers and is designed for cruising in some style.

It has four decks, two restaurants and also indoor and outdoor luxury lounges.

The threat from pirates prompted France to order its navy, in November last year, to escort two ships carrying food aid to Somalia.

In November 2005, pirates attempted to board a cruise ship carrying 600 passengers off the Somali coast.
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Old 07-04-2008, 03:11   #2
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Although the International Maritime Bureau advises sailors not to travel closer than 200 nautical miles to Somalia; once they approach the Gulf of Aden, the distance between the coasts of Somali and Yemen are much less than that minimum.

UN Map of Pirate Attacks off Somali (2007):
http://unosat.web.cern.ch/unosat/fre...Highres_v4.pdf
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Old 07-04-2008, 05:03   #3
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The 850-tonne three-masted yacht ....
The hijacked yacht can take up to 64 passengers and is designed for cruising in some style.

It has four decks, two restaurants and also indoor and outdoor luxury lounges.

.
I don't think they will mistake my boat for one like this. Especially when I am pretty sure a small boat can get through the worst area with precautions
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Old 07-04-2008, 05:52   #4
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a small boat can get through the worst area with precautions
Unfortuantely news services never give good clear locations so its hard to plot some incidents.
This one is interesting as the ship had been in these waters working for a while. So it may have been a target that a phone call could have advised the pirates when it was leaving port.
There is a well done essay on Noonsite with the precautions I mentioned, going through the difficult area - 200 miles - mid week, at night etc. I don't think I would sail at all during the day as it can be spotted too easily, just motor flat out. Glad diesel is cheep there!

http://www.noonsite.com/PDF_Files/PiracyintheRedSea
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Old 07-04-2008, 06:24   #5
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The yacht was seized in the Gulf of Aden, and has now arrived in the northern town of Eyl, which is in an autonomous part of Somalia called "Puntland" (7̊58'48"N 49̊49'12"E) outside the limited control of the authorities in Mogadishu.
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Old 07-04-2008, 08:21   #6
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Somalia backs assault on French yacht pirates ~ by Mustafa Haji Abdinur

" Somali officials on Monday urged tough action against pirates holding a French yacht after an elite French army unit was placed on standby to intervene if negotiations failed.

The local governor in Somalia's breakaway northern region of Puntland, Musa Ghelle Yusuf, said he would be "happy ... to see the pirates killed."

"The French and American ships must attack the pirates. They have our blessing," Ghelle told AFP by phone, adding that the hijackers have been encouraged by ransoms paid in previous ship seizures.

"These pirates are terrorists and there is no need to negotiate with them," Guelleh said. "Attacking them will solve future piracy plans." ...
"

Goto: Somalia backs assault on French yacht pirates - Yahoo! News
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Old 07-04-2008, 08:32   #7
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If they have taken the boat to port. It sounds like they will take the hostages to land, and demand ransom. WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD!

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Old 07-04-2008, 11:57   #8
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Hijacked French yacht did not anchor in Eyl

EYL, Somalia Apr 7 (Garowe Online) - The mayor of a small coastal village in northern Somalia dismissed media reports that a French luxury yacht hijacked by pirates on Apr. 4 has anchored near the village of Eyl.

Abdullahi Said O’Yusuf, the mayor of Eyl, told Radio Garowe on Monday that the hijacked French yacht had passed Eyl and headed south towards coastal waters off the region of Mudug, in central Somalia ...

... Unconfirmed reports emerging from the region of Mudug said the hijacked ship had reached a small coastal town in the village, where armed villagers engaged the pirates in a skirmish that killed at least two people* ...

Goto:

Garowe Online - Home

* The pirates had attempted to come ashore on Sunday. However residents said gunmen working for the local authorities made it clear they were not welcome. "The pirates opened fire, killing two men after local fighters told them to go away," Mohamed Ibrahim, a radio operator, said.

A better map of Somalia (than below):
http://www.un.org/Depts/Cartographic...le/somalia.pdf
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Old 07-04-2008, 18:34   #9
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Oh well...shoulda gone around the horn.
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Old 08-04-2008, 00:40   #10
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That is interesting. So Villagers carried out a little Vigilanti huh? Great to hear. Because in reality, the only way to curb this carry on is from the inside. Just patrolling the waters is not working. Nor does the threat seem to deminish as "pirates" are killed. Stopping it from inside the country is the only real way of dealing with this, IMO.
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Old 08-04-2008, 04:50   #11
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. Stopping it from inside the country is the only real way of dealing with this, IMO.


There be the difficulty. The good guys tried a few years ago but the effort sank in anti-American propaganda. So the world reaps.....
Now the country is just a pit of tribalism without any cohesion of regions - they all want to be independent. One of those regions Puntland owns the 'corner' up the top.

But I read the ship has been moved further south into more uncertain areas.

To make matters worse the hijackers shot dead 2 Puntland locals when they tried to come ashore. So with 2 murders under their belt the situation for the crew is even more perilous!
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Old 10-04-2008, 09:21   #12
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This getting to be very interesting...

France negotiates with pirates who hijacked French luxury yacht Le Ponant off coast of Somalia
April 9, 2008
In France, the families of the 22 French hostages meet in Paris with Nicolas Sarkozy as France talks to Le Ponant’s attackers.
22 French nationals were taken hostage aboard the French luxury yacht Le Ponantby 10-12 armed pirates who boarded and hijacked the boat last Friday in the Gulf of Aden as it was on its way from the Seychelles to the Mediterranean.

The families of the French crew members met in Paris yesterday with President of France Nicolas Sarkozy. Foreign Affairs Minister of France Bernard Kouchner says the government of France is in communication with the pirates and that everyone hopes the matter can be resolved “without any bloodshed,” adding the the process could take some time. But while the French negotiate, they are also putting French special forces in place, leaving options open for a more forceful operation. The boat is being tracked from the air by surveillance aircraft and from the water by battleships in the area. In addition to the 22 French nationals, there are also some 10 more crew or Ukrainian and South Korean descent. No passengers for France or elsewhere were aboard at the time of the incident.

The 32-cabin Le Ponantis equipped with lounges, bar and a restaurant, is one of three operated by the French cruise operator CMA-CGM, based in Marseille, which describes itself as France’s leading cruise provider. With a capacity for 64 passengers, it offers cruises in the Gulf region, including between Egypt and Aqaba in Jordan, and off the coast of Oman. Le Ponant was set to pick up passangers in Malta later this month.

The part of the Indian Ocean where the Ponantwas attacked has become a known nest of pirates and hijackers, who regularly seize civilian vessels and then demand ransom for passengers and crew. In 2007 alone, 25 incidents took place in the waters off Somalia. Protection convoys are ordered for ships bringing aid to Somalia as these are tempting targets for the pirates. The International Maritime Bureau has reported that global pirate attacks rose 10 percent in 2007, marking the first increase in three years. The Bureau has advised civilian vessels to steer clear of the area. The hijacking of the Ponant was the second attack in the area in two days.

The French warship Le Commandant Rouen has been diverted from NATO’s Afghanistan operation to join the Yemeni coast guard in the hunt for and rescue of the captured French yacht.

Opinion is mixed on France’s approach to the crisis, with some saying that any appearance of giving in to the pirates’ demands will only encourage similar incidents.

Just Reported : the French Government have dispatched the GIGN to the area when Le Ponant is anchored.
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Old 10-04-2008, 10:07   #13
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The French Govt have a history of pragmatism when dealing with stuff like this - get communications going, if needed meet some demands (including below the table), with the threat of force as a negotiating tactic / training excercise.

The British Govt on the other hand have a history of principles - which is really an excuse to do b#gger all. If lucky you would get a junior civil servant in the Foreign Office writing "a Stiff Letter" to the Somali Times.

Anyone know if the Western Sea Powers actually patrol these waters?
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Old 11-04-2008, 05:22   #14
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Somalia: Greed, Guns and Paranoia
Somalia: Greed, Guns and Paranoia
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Old 11-04-2008, 07:19   #15
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Anyone know if the Western Sea Powers actually patrol these waters?
Yes, there's a NATO contingent in the area. Most of the photos in the media of the pirates on board Le Ponant were taken from shipboard helicopters from that fleet; and the French frigate Cmdt Bouan also from the fleet is still tracking Le Ponant.
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