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Dhaka Tribune

MV Abdullah chief officer recounts Somali pirate takeover in audio message

  • Ship captured by Somali pirates on Tuesday
  • Reportedly being taken to Somalia
Update : 13 Mar 2024, 02:00 PM

The chief officer of the captured Bangladeshi ship MV Abdullah, Atiq Ullah Khan, has revealed details regarding the situation onboard through an audio message.

Atiq sent the message to the ship's owners in the country on Tuesday.

The 3:34 minute-long message reveals how the pirates took control of the ship and its aftermath.

MV Abdullah, captured by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean on Tuesday, is reportedly being taken to Somalia. As of 11am on Wednesday, the ship was about 275 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia, said Bangladesh Merchant Marine Officers’ Association (BMMOA) General Secretary Shakhawat Hossain.

Atiq said in the message: “It was 10:30am, (1:30pm Bangladesh Time). A high-speed boat was approaching us. We immediately rang the alarm and went to the bridge. The captain and the ship's second officer were on the bridge at that time.

“We sent out an SOS (an international code signal of extreme distress). We tried contacting the UKMTO (UK Maritime Trade Operations), but they did not respond. They (pirates) surrounded the captain and the second officer. At this time, some shots were fired.

“A few others came in another speedboat. Thus 15-20 people boarded the ship. After a while, more pirates arrived in a large Iranian fishing boat. They had seized the Iranian fishing boat a month ago. With it, they had roamed the seas for a month looking for new ships to capture. Unfortunately, they found us.”

He continued: “The ship has 20-25 days of food and water… about 200 tons. I told everyone to use them sparingly. When the food stock is depleted, we will be in danger. But there is a problem: we have some cold cargo onboard, about 55,000 tons. They are a bit dangerous. There is a risk of fire. The last time I measured oxygen, I got 9-10%. It has to be monitored regularly. We will need expert opinion if the oxygen level increases due to any reason.”

Among the 23 crew members, 11 are from Chittagong, two from Noakhali and one each from Natore, Naogaon, Feni, Faridpur, Lakshmipur, Barisal, Netrakona, Sirajganj, Tangail and Khulna.

Earlier on Tuesday, the ship, carrying coal from Mozambique’s Maputo port to Al Hamriyah Port in the UAE, was attacked around noon.

MV Abdullah is owned by SR Shipping – a sister company of the Chittagong-based Kabir Steel Re-rolling Mills (KSRM) Ltd. All crew members are being held hostage by the pirates, said KSRM’s media adviser Mizanul Islam.

The crew members are Captain Mohammad Abdur Rashid, Chief Officer Mohammad Atikullah Khan, Second Officer Mazharul Islam Chowdhury, Third Officer Tarequl Islam, Deck Cadet Sabbir Hossain, Chief Engineer ASM Saiduzzaman, Second Officer Toufiqul Islam, Third Engineer Rokon Uddin, Fourth Engineer Tanvir Ahmed, Engine Cadet Ayub Khan, electrician Ibrahim Khalil, seamen Md Anwarul Haque, Md Asifur Rahman, Sazzad Hossain, Joy Mahmud, Nazmul Haque and Ainul Haque, oiler Mohamamd Shamsuddin, Ali Hossain, fireman Mosharraf Hossain Shakil, chief cook Shafiqul Islam, general steward Nur Uddin, and fitter Saleh Ahmed.

KSRM owns 23 ships – all operating on international routes. In 2011, one of the ships, MV Zahan Moni, was hijacked and later released by Somali pirates after getting ransom.

Somali pirates wreaked havoc in international waters for roughly a decade spanning from 2008 to 2018.

Data from the Maritime Security Center - Horn of Africa, the planning and coordination centre for the European Union's anti-piracy operation EUNAVFOR, show there have been more than 20 hijackings or attempted hijackings of vessels in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin since November, according to media reports.

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