Large Cruise Yacht Taken by Somali Pirates
Posted on: 2008-04-09 12:13:27
French Military Police Mobilized After Somalia Hijacking
When we were aboard a few years ago the captain told us about running up the Somalia coast with lights off at night or falling in behind warships if possible in past years.
Because the boat is relatively slow and long, it cannot “fishtail” fast enough to keep pirates from simply hopping aboard from astern.
Other than being easy to board by pirates, Le Ponant is a wonderful way to travel. Press reports call it a “luxury” vessel, but it is actually fairly Spartan by cruise ship standards. What stands out about the vessel is the friendliness of the crew, the French food, the ambiance of the small vessel with 80 passengers or less, and its unusual itineraries.
Pirates boarded the small French cruise yacht off the coast of Somalia last Friday and took its 30-member crew hostage, the French military and the ship's owner said.
The 32-cabin, four-deck yacht Le Ponant, "was the victim of an act of piracy early this afternoon as it was sailing between Somalia and Yemen," armed forces spokesman Christophe Prazuck said. The three-masted yacht was carrying 30 crew but had no passengers on board at the time, Prazuck said.
"As far as we know, no shots have been fired," he said.
French military forces in the area and a US-led multinational force, Combined Task Force 150, "were able to confirm the situation and are following its evolution," he added.
French shipping group CMA-CGM confirmed one of its boats had been seized in the Gulf of Aden, “dead-heading” on its way from the Indian Ocean's Seychelle Islands to the Mediterranean, and that a "majority" of the crew were French.
It said it did not want to give further information "to avoid endangering its crew taken hostage."
Pirate attacks are frequent off Somalia's 3,700-kilometre (2,300-mile) coastline, prompting the International Maritime Bureau to advise sailors not to come closer than 200 nautical miles to its shore. Somalia lies at the mouth of the Red Sea on a major trade route between Asia and Europe via the Suez Canal. It has not had a functional government since the 1991 ouster of Dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.