Bulgaria Hopes for Swift Release as Somali Pirates Hijack 'Empty' Ship

Politics » DIPLOMACY | May 12, 2010, Wednesday // 03:13
Bulgaria: Bulgaria Hopes for Swift Release as Somali Pirates Hijack 'Empty' Ship The MV Panega was hijacked by pirates even though it was part of an internationally guarded convoy. Photo by EU Navfor

The MV Panega, the first ever Bulgaria-flagged ship to be hijacked by Somali pirates, was traveling empty as it was en route to bring scrap from India.

The Director of Bulgaria’s State Agency “Sea Administration”, Sergey Tsarnaliyski, has said the Bulgarian authorities hope that the Somali pirates will release the MV Panega as soon as they realize that the ship carries nothing of any value for which they can demand a high ransom.

The MV Panega was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden by Somali pirates at about 7:30 pm Eastern European Time even though it was sailing as part of an internationally guarded convoy, EU Navfor Somalia announced.

The Bulgarian ship was hijacked approximately 100 nautical miles east of Aden (Yemen), it was en route from the Red Sea to India when it was attacked by pirates.

MV Panega with a dead weight of 5,848 tonnes, has a crew of 15, all Bulgarian. All 15 Bulgarian sailors are believed to have been captured by the Somali pirates.

The Panega (built 1986, 5,848 dwt) is a single-skin hulled product tanker operated by Navigation Maritime Bulgare Ltd (NAVIBULGAR), formerly, the Bulgarian state shipping operator privatized in 2008.

Bulgaria’s Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Transport, and Defense have immediately formed an inter-institutional working group to tackle the situation. In a Facebook post, Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov, who is on a tour in the Western Balkans, promised swift actions and regular updates on the situation for the media.

According to the EU naval forces in the Gulf of Aden, it was the captain of the Bulgarian ship who announced that there were pirates on board.

The MV Panega was sailing within a guarded convoy in the internationally recommended transit corridor in the Gulf of Aden. In fact, it was only 7 nautical miles away from an EU naval vessel but was still attacked by Somali pirates. Because of the bad visibility and the unfavorable weather conditions, the attackers were not noticed by EU Navfor ship.

According to the EU naval forces, the Somali pirates are already taking the Bulgarian ship to the cost of Somalia.

The MV Panega was insured against piracy, and all ransom negotiations will be handled and carried out by the insurance company.

Before the hijacking of MV Panega a total of 13 Bulgarian sailors from the crews of St. James Park and Asian Glory had been kept in captivity.

The UK-owned ships St. James Park and Asian Glory were hijacked on December 29, 2009, and January 1, 2010, respectively, and their crews have been kept in captivity ever since.

With Tuesday's first ever hijacking of a Bulgarian-flagged vessel, the total number of Bulgarian sailors kept by the Somali pirates rises to 28.

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Tags: somali pirates, MV Panega, EU NAVFOR, Somalia, tanker, ship, sailors, hijack, hijacked, Sea Administration, Navigation Maritime Bulgare
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