Pirates have seized a Kenyan-flagged fishing vessel off the Somali coast for possible use as a “mother ship” to launch more attacks, a maritime official said.
Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme said pirates captured the Spanish-owned FV Sakoba last week.
“I think the pirates have taken her, now they are using her as a mother ship to attack other ships,” he told Reuters.
Mwangura said 10 Kenyans, one Spaniard, one Pole, one Cape Verdean, a Namibian and two Senegalese made up the ship’s crew.
It was unclear where exactly the ship was hijacked, Mwangura said, adding that a director of the company that operates FV Sakoba was heading to Kenya to negotiate its release.
“The ship has been operating since 2005 in Kenyan and Tanzanian waters. She has been here for a long time, with a Kenyan flag, licensed by the Kenyan fisheries,” he said.
Emboldened by rising ransom payments, Somali sea gangs have increased attacks in recent months, making tens of millions of dollars by capturing vessels in the Indian Ocean and the busy Gulf of Aden shipping lanes connecting Europe and Asia.
Foreign navies have been deployed off the Gulf of Aden since the start of 2009, operating convoys and setting up safer transit corridors through the most dangerous waters. But the pirates operate as far south as the Seychelles.
Pic: Somali pirates