The ship could be brought to Haradheere, a pirate stronghold, or Hobyo, both in the central portion of Somalia’s Indian Ocean coastline, pirates told Reuters.
“The Indian Ocean is very big, and too hard to defend. The Gulf of Aden is a more limited area.”
China with great fanfare sent three warships to Somalian waters late last year, after a ship carrying oil to China was attacked by pirates. But Chinese warships, like those of other nations, primarily provide protection in the narrow and dangerous Gulf of Aden, not in the much larger Indian Ocean.
Chinese ships travelling through the Gulf of Aden form convoys that are escorted by warships from Djibouti to the mouth of the Gulf, according to the association’s website. Convoys sail about every five days in each direction.
The De Xin Hai was travelling alone up the east coast of Africa when she was hijacked, with about 25 Chinese crewmen onboard. Ship-owner Qingdao Ocean Shipping, a unit of China Ocean Shipping or COSCO, requested help yesterday afternoon.
“Somalia is a real headache for everyone. If you stay too far from the coast, you lose time and it costs too much extra money,” said a Hong Kong ship broker.
“Every captain has to decide how offshore to stay based on his own experience.”
Some French and Spanish fishing fleets north of the Seychelles have also been attacked in recent weeks, as the pirates range into the Indian Ocean. The De Xin Hai was about 350 nautical miles north of the Seychelles.
Ship captains generally begin evasive action when they spot pirates approaching, the broker said, adding that the much smaller pirate flotillas are “not easy to see, especially at night.”
Warships can only help if they are less than 45 minutes away, he added.