MV Faina

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MV Faina as observed from the guided-missile cruiser the USS Vella Gulf
MV Faina as observed from the guided-missile cruiser the USS Vella Gulf.
Career
Name: 1978: Vallmo1
1983: Matina
1985: Loverval
2003: Marabou
2007: Faina
Owner: Waterlux AG2
Operator: Tomex Team2
Port of registry: 1978: Sweden Sweden
1991: Luxembourg Luxembourg
1996: Panama Panama
(unknown): Belize Belize
Builder: Lödöse Varv AB
Yard number: 179
Completed: May 19781
Identification: IMO number: 74193772
Status: In service
General characteristics
Class & type: KM* L3
Tonnage: 10,931 GT (gross tonnage)
Displacement: 13,650 long tons (13,870 t)
Length: 152.5 m (500 ft 4 in) LBP
Beam: 18.01 m (59 ft 1 in) (moulded)
Draught: 6.72 m (22.0 ft)
Depth: 13.35 m (43.8 ft)
Propulsion: 2 × diesel engines1
Speed: 17.0 knots (31.5 km/h; 19.6 mph)1
Crew: 21

The MV Faina (Ukrainian: Фаїна) is a roll-on/roll-off cargo ship operated by a Ukrainian company that sails under a Belize flag of convenience.345

The Faina is owned by Waterlux AG, based in Panama City, and managed by Tomex Team in Odessa, Ukraine.2

On 25 September 2008, the ship was captured by Somali pirates (allegedly under the orders of piracy kingpin Mohamed Abdi Hassan) in the twenty-sixth such attack in 2008.67 The Faina's crew (at the time of capture) consisted of 17 Ukrainians, three Russians and one Latvian. On 28 September, Viktor Nikolsky, first mate on the Faina, said that Vladimir Kolobkov, the ship's Russian captain, had died from a hypertension-related stroke.8910 On 5 February 2009 it was announced that a ransom of US $3.2 million had been paid to the pirates, and the ship was released the next day.11

Hijacking

A photograph taken on board the USS Howard showing Somali pirates in small boats after hijacking MV Faina.
The crew of the MV Faina stands on the deck after a U.S. Navy request to check on their health and welfare.

On 25 September 2008, the Faina was hijacked12 by approximately 50 Somali pirates613 calling themselves the Central Regional Coast Guard.14 The ship was allegedly heading to Mombasa, Kenya, from Ukraine with 33 Soviet-made T-72 tanks, weapons (including rocket-propelled grenades and anti-aircraft guns)6 and ammunition on board, when it was seized.15 The pirates said they were unaware of the ship's cargo before they captured it.16 However, the pirates claim that documents found on board indicate that the arms cargo was destined for Juba, Southern Sudan, instead of Kenya, as originally understood.3 The claim was confirmed by U.S. Navy and several other intelligence groups, although the Kenyan government denies the allegation.17

The pirates demanded a ransom and had threatened to blow up the ship, along with the pirates themselves and the ship's crew, if the ransom is not paid.818 The ransom amount was reported as US$35 million, US$20 million, US$8 million, and US$5 million in the weeks following the capture.192021 The threat was later withdrawn.22 The pirates initially set a course for the pirate haven of Eyl, but instead anchored near the village of Hinbarwaqo after the Howard caught up to them.23 Supplies of fuel for electrical generation were accepted on board, and food and drinking water were later delivered to the ship.24

The U.S. Navy's Arleigh Burke-class destroyer Howard engaged the Faina in pursuit within several hundred yards to stop the unloading of the cargo by the pirates.325 Later, the Ticonderoga-class missile cruiser Vella Gulf and other U.S. warships joined the Howard and surrounded the Faina with the Russian missile frigate Neustrashimy patrolling the Somali coast.8172627

American helicopters28 and other aircraft have also been flying over the Faina.29 Warships from the U.S. Navy and other navies have blockaded the MV Faina in a port off Somalia's Indian Ocean coast.30 However, pirates wanted to unload small weapons from the cargo near Hinbarwaqo, even while warned not to do so by surrounding naval ships.31

Three of the hijackers were reportedly killed during a gunfight between rival pirates.32 However, this report was denied by the pirates, instead saying that they were celebrating Eid ul-Fitr, and were "happy on the ship" and were "celebrating."10

International reactions

Russia, Somalia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, and NATO cooperated to try to recover the ship.8 Kenya said that it will refuse to cooperate or negotiate with the pirates.833

This incident and further hijackings, has renewed international efforts to stem Somalian piracy. On 7 October 2008, because of the rise in hijacks — besides the Faina, some eleven other vessels are hijacked — the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 1838, which "calls upon all states interested in the security of maritime activities to take part actively in the fight against piracy on the high seas off the coast of Somalia, in particular by deploying naval vessels and military aircraft."34 NATO has authorized a force of frigates to patrol Somalia's waters, India has fired on a pirate ship, and the coast of Somalia will soon be blockaded by navies of many nations.

Puntland Minister of Fisheries Ahmed Said Aw-nur advocated storming the Faina with European or American commandos, saying, "[a] military operation has to be taken."9 On 1 October, Mohammed Jammer Ali, the acting Somalian Foreign Minister, said, "[t]he international community has permission to fight with the pirates."35 The Somalian insurgency group Al-Shabaab advised the pirates to "either burn down the ship and its arms or sink it" if the ransom was not paid.36

Hostage revolt

On Tuesday, 9 December 2008, the pirates holding the ship and its crew hostage told the AFP that two of the hostages had tried to unsuccessfully revolt against the pirates the previous Monday. This revolt was put down shortly after, and the spokesman for the pirates reported that they would take "serious punitive measures" against the crewmembers.37 However, the account of the pirates concerning the revolt was disputed by Mikhail Voitenko, a writer for the Russian Sovfracht Maritime Bulletin, who called the story a "canard" and "threat" that was meant to cover for the capture of two of the pirates from the Faina who were heading for shore by American forces and the failed bid of the pirates to convince the intermediaries and the ship owner to speak to the Americans and gain the captured pirates' release.3839

Release

On 5 February 2009 the MV Faina was released after being held captive for 5 months. The remaining crew of 20 were freed along with the ship and are reported by the Ukrainian presidency as being healthy and safe. A ransom of US$3,200,000 was paid on 4 February 2009 by the ship's mysterious owners. The pirates left the vessel early next day stating that the release had been delayed for one hour, but the ship was eventually released.11 The ship arrived to its destination, the Port of Mombasa, on 12 February 2009, where the cargo was unloaded.40 The body of the captain was taken to a local morgue awaiting a shipment to Russia.41

An inquiry by the Kenyan parliamentary Defence and Foreign Relations Committee failed to determine the destination of the cargo. The chairman of the committee Adan Keynan criticised the Kenyan Ministry of Defense for noncooperation and secret-keeping.42

A classified cable from the US Embassy in Kyiv on 9 November 2009, released through WikiLeaks, documents a meeting about the destination of the Faina's cargo stating "Van Diepen, regretting that the GOU [Government of Ukraine] had forced him to do so, showed the Ukrainians cleared satellite imagery of T-72 tanks unloaded in Kenya, transferred to railyards for onward shipment, and finally in South Sudan. This led to a commotion on the Ukrainian side." and concludes that "Nykonenko said that Ukraine would study this situation in the light of a partner relationship so hat(sic) the U.S. would know that Ukraine is a reliable partner."43

Gallery

References

  1. ^ a b c d "Vallmo". Miramar Ship Index. R.B.Haworth. Retrieved 7 October 2008. 
  2. ^ a b c d "FAINA: Ship info". Equasis. Retrieved 4 October 2008. 
  3. ^ a b c "Confusion looms over ownership of seized Ukrainian military cargo". Xinhua News Agency. 29 September 2008. Retrieved 29 September 2008. 
  4. ^ "Faina". Vesseltracker.com. Retrieved 4 October 2008. 
  5. ^ for Investigative Reporting Check |authorlink= value (help) (January 2004). "Hiding behind the flag". Frontline World. Retrieved 4 October 2008. 
  6. ^ a b c "Pirates call all the shots". Sunday Herald. Retrieved 29 September 2008. 
  7. ^ James Bridger (4 Nov 2013). "The Rise of Fall of Somalia's Pirate King". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 5 Nov 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c d e "Pirates Demand Ransom Of Millions". Sky News. 28 September 2008. Retrieved 29 September 2008. 
  9. ^ a b Gettleman, Jeffrey (28 September 2008). "Tensions Rise Over Ship Hijacked Off Somalia". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 September 2008. 
  10. ^ a b Hassan, Mohamed Olad (30 September 2008). "Pirates say they celebrated Muslim holiday on ship". Google News. Associated Press. Retrieved 30 September 2008. dead link
  11. ^ a b "Somali pirates 'free arms ship'". BBC News. 5 February 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2009. 
  12. ^ "Faina - september 25th, 2008 - Hinbarwaqo, Somalia". Coordination maree noire. 25 October 2008. Retrieved 25 October 2008. 
  13. ^ Wadhams, Nick (26 September 2008). "Somali Pirates' Unexpected Booty: Russian Tanks". Time. Retrieved 28 September 2008. 
  14. ^ Gettleman, Jeffrey (30 September 2008). "Q. & A. With a Pirate: "We Just Want the Money"". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 October 2008. 
  15. ^ Gettleman, Jeffrey (26 September 2008). "Somalia Pirates Capture Tanks and Global Notice". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 September 2008. 
  16. ^ "Pirates' spokesman: We want money, not arms". Detroit Free Press. 30 September 2008. Retrieved 1 October 2008. dead link
  17. ^ a b Mohamed Olad Hassan (3 October 2008). "Hijackers off Somalia show no sign of giving up". Google News. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 5 October 2008. Retrieved 4 October 2008. 
  18. ^ "Pirates threaten to blow up ship". BBC. 10 October 2008. Retrieved 11 October 2008. 
  19. ^ "US destroyer guardsship sic seized by pirates". The Independent. 29 September 2008. Retrieved 29 September 2008. 
  20. ^ "Somali pirate says ransom reduced". Google News. Associated Press. 7 October 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2008. dead link
  21. ^ "Somali pirates demand $5 mln ransom for Ukrainian ship crew". RIA Novosti. 1 November 2008. Retrieved 1 November 2008. 
  22. ^ "Somali pirates drop threat, resume negotiations". CNN. 15 October 2008. Retrieved 15 October 2008. dead link
  23. ^ "30 Days MV FAINA Piracy Crisis – Background by Ecoterra". American Chronicle. 25 October 2008. 
  24. ^ "Kiev says crew of Ukrainian ship seized off Somalia unharmed". RIA Novosti. 11 November 2008. Retrieved 22 November 2008. 
  25. ^ http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=40045
  26. ^ http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=40096&page=4
  27. ^ "Russian frigate begins anti-piracy patrols off Somalia coast". RIA Novosti. 28 October 2008. Retrieved 28 October 2008. 
  28. ^ Kennedy, Elizabeth A. (29 September 2008). "U.S. Navy watches seized ship with Sudan-bound tanks". Google News. Associated Press. Retrieved 29 September 2008. dead link
  29. ^ Hassan, Mohamed Olad (28 September 2008). "Somali pirates want $20M ship ransom; crewman dies". Google News. Associated Press. Retrieved 29 September 2008. dead link
  30. ^ "US Navy plays waiting game with surrounded Somali pirates". Google News. Agence France-Presse. 1 October 2008. Retrieved 1 October 2008. 
  31. ^ Crilly, Rob (29 September 2008). "Islamists plunder weapons from hijacked ship in Somalia". The Times. Retrieved 29 September 2008. 
  32. ^ "Three pirates shot dead in ship hijack drama". The Standard. 30 September 2008. Retrieved 30 September 2008. dead link
  33. ^ "NATO to send ships as Somali pirates ease demands". Google News. Associated Press. 9 October 2008. Retrieved 9 October 2008. dead link
  34. ^ "New Somalia piracy resolution adopted at UN". Google News. Agence France-Presse. 8 October 2008. Retrieved 10 October 2008. 
  35. ^ Hassan, Mohamed Olad (1 October 2008). "Somalia: World can use force against the pirates". Google News. Retrieved 2 October 2008. dead link
  36. ^ "Somali Islamists tell pirates to destroy Ukrainian arms ship". Google News. Agence France-Presse. 2 October 2008. Retrieved 3 October 2008. 
  37. ^ "Pirates 'put down hostage revolt'", BBC, 9 December 2008
  38. ^ Somali pirates invented story of attack by Faina crew - expert, RIA Novosti
  39. ^ No mutiny onboard Faina seized by Somali pirates – source, Information Telegraph Agency of Russia
  40. ^ Daily Nation, 14 February 2009: Arms ship's full cargo revealed
  41. ^ The Standard, 14 February 2009: Firm hired to clean MV Faina as crew meet family
  42. ^ The Standard, 23 December 2009: No answer on ‘MV Faina’ arsenal query
  43. ^ "U.S.-UKRAINE NONPROLIFERATION MEETINGS SEPTEMBER 23-24, 2009". 9 November 2009. Retrieved 29 January 2012. 

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