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Ordeal of our hijacked seafarers ends

Published : Wednesday, 17 April, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 275

This is a big sigh of relief that the hijacked Bangladeshi-flagged ship, MV Abdullah along with its 23 seafarers has been freed safely after a 33-day ordeal at the hands of Somali pirates. If everything goes as planned, all the sailors are expected to return home by April 24.

MV Abdullah is now heading for the Port of United Arab Emirates and is likely to anchor there on April 20. It was hijacked by the Somali pirates on March 12 when it was around 500 nautical miles off the Somali coast, sailing from Maputo in Mozambique to UAE with 58,000 tonnes of coal.

The release of our sailors within a little more than one month was possible due to continuous tracking and tireless efforts put in by the vessel owner, Kabir Group, with the constant support and coordination from the government.

What is commendable is that both the Kabir Group and the government authorities wanted to have our sailors freed unharmed. Bangladesh did not allow any armed intervention when European Maritime Forces and a warship from the Indian Navy sought permission on March 16 to launch a rescue operation for the crew members soon after pirates hijacked MV Abdullah.

The clear message from Bangladesh government was the priority of crew members lives. It was because conducting a military operation always carried the risk of casualties on board as the pirates were heavily armed and they might have retaliated had they felt their lives in danger.

This latest hostage crisis of our sailors has once again brought to the notice of the key issue of safety and security of our commercial ships navigating across the risk seas. Earlier, Kabir Groups another vessel MV Jahan Moni was hijacked along with its 25 crew members in the Gulf of Aden back in 2010. Fortunately, all the crew members at that time were released for an undisclosed amount of ransom as it was the case with the MV Abdullah.  
 
Yet, MV Abdullah was not passing through the high risk zones near the coast of Somalia. But there was a lack of safety measures in the ship which did not have armed gunmen and razor fences around it.
The high-risk area is defined after time-to-time analysis. In 2023, the area of the high-risk zone was reduced to within 100 nautical miles off the Somali Coast.

Somali pirates were active along their coastline from about 2008 to 2018 and then went dormant until late last year. Now they have started their piracy again with the capture of several commercial ships.

We have to learn a lesson from the past. And this is high time our commercial ships took adequate safety measures as per the standard practice of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) while navigating the international waters.







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