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Page last updated at 20:29 GMT, Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Somali piracy: Your stories

MV Faina
MV Faina, a French cargo ship pirated in September 2008
Following a spate of ship hijackings off the Somali coast BBC News website readers in the maritime industry share their concerns and experiences.

They discuss the dangers ships face and the measures they would like introduced to safeguard vessels from pirate attacks.

PER GULLESTRUP, SHIPPING CONSORTIUM CEO, COPENHAGEN

We are very much affected by this issue in as much as our MS CEC Future was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden on 7 November.

The ship was in a secure zone through which international shipping should pass and it had followed all the necessary measures.

Per Gullestrup
Per Gullestrup says there must be more awareness of the problem
However, it was a small, slow ship and low in the water in the northern part of the Gulf.

The pirates got on board and took it to Eyl on the coast of Somalia, where they demanded a ransom.

There are 13 crew on board - 11 Russians, one Estonian and one Georgian.

Our crew and ship are still being held and because negotiations are under way I cannot talk about that.

We have since then been actively involved in trying to make the international community aware of this problem, as it is seriously threatening our crews and the free flow of cargo between Asia and Europe.

The patrolling strategy of the area is faulty, clearly evidenced by number of vessels hijacked during the past 10 days.

The root cause of the problem is the lack of a legitimate government in Somalia.

The short term treatment requires changed rules of engagement.

CAPT VINAYAK ANANT MARATHE, INDIA

I have just come home from Port Said, after successfully commanding a slow speed laden bulk carrier through the Gulf of Aden.

We followed the courses through the MSPA (Maritime Security Patrol Area) corridor, which is patrolled by naval fleet.

I am a sitting duck doing just 12 knots while the pirates can just circle around us at a speed of 25 knots.
Captain Vinayak Anant Marathe

It was a very tense 40-hour passage. We witnessed an attempted attack just 10 miles behind us, one successful hijacking and another two attempts just close.

Indeed, good enough to turn anybody a nervous wreck. The stress of sailing through the area is unbelievable - I was a casual smoker before but then I smoked eight packs in 44 hours.

As a bulk carrier master, I am a sitting duck doing just 12 knots while the pirates can just circle around us at a speed of 25 knots.

The only thing I can do is to zigzag and try to hit them but if I do and they turn out not to be pirates then I might lose my licence.

Unless we employ a convoy system then it will never be safe.


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