While the global shipping industry wrestles with many major issues, don't be fooled into thinking that all has gone quite with piracy on the high seas. As recently as two years ago the pirates of Somalia and were on our screens and in our news papers on an almost daily basis and were the scourge of the seas. Piracy has become less of a hot topic these days but it is still occurring on a regular basis and affecting container shipping worldwide.
Only yesterday the MSC Lucia was rescued from attackers in the Gulf of Guinea, close to the coastline of Nigeria. An as yet unconfirmed number of attackers boarded the vessel after slowing her from 14 knots to a full stop roughly 90 miles off the coast close to the Agbami Oil Terminal. The 2000TEU vessel built in 1985 and flying the Panamanian flag was able to get a message of distress out and was attended by the Russian Naval vessel Admiarl Kulakov.
The attackers had boarded the vessel after pulling along side on a speed boat, the crew of the MSC Lucia managed to safely retreat and seal themselves in the engine room of the stricken vessel. A Ka-27PS helicopter with a compliment of highly trained Russian Marines tool off from the Kulakov and this was enough to make the pirates flee and head at high speed back towards coastal waters.
MSC have released an initial statement confirming the incident and thanking the quick and efficient work of both the Russian and Italian navies who were patrolling the areas and steamed straight for the vessel when they heard that she was in distress.
Incidents of piracy have in fact slowed in the past few years due to the major International efforts of the worlds navies working together, however the lure of ever growing vessels which remain largely undefended other than water cannons and are often laden with billions of dollars of cargo remain a temptation that many a pirate is ready to hoist the holly roger and risk life and limb for.
Photograph courtesy of the Russian Ministry of Defence