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Ghost Ship on Indian Ocean FoundSalem-News.com
Ghost-ship MV Esperznza recovered by Seychelles government.
(KENYA (ECOP-MARINE)) - Though CDR McPherson, Commanding Officer, USS Sterett celebrated himself on facebook for having taken the crew off the M/V Esperanza already in December 2010 - after not having been able to repair the engine properly.
However he didn't mention what the government of the Seychelles had to say today in an official statement:
"The MT Esperanza, a 79 metres Sierra Leone registered tanker had been drifting at sea for several months. The vessel was apparently left adrift in the ocean, after its crew had been taken by a foreign naval vessel to Oman until it was relocated several days ago. [ECOTERRA Intl. sent out the alerts] The Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration (SMSA) evaluated that the drifting 1,332 Gross Tonnage (GRT) tanker posed a danger to navigation, as well as an environmental threat for the Seychelles' diverse and sensitive marine ecosystem. To mitigate the associated risks, it was decided that the vessel had to be towed back to the safety of Port Victoria, where the SMSA would initiate contact with the owners to decide the fate of the vessel."
In a joint operation mounted this week, the Seychelles Coast Guard (SCG) and Seychelles Ports Authority (SPA) recovered the ghost-ship in an operation which saw the participation of PS Andromache and Tug Allouette taking place some 200 nautical miles South West of Mahe Island.
Further investigations will show if the commanding officer of USS Sterett tried to at least avert the grave danger posing by this floating vessel and reported properly to the Indian and Sierra Leone authorities as well as to the naval command centres - or if he just steamed the hosted crew on one of their naval fun trips to Oman and left them there without doing the necessary to avert the danger the abandoned vessel posed for now two month.
USS Sterett apparently was also the vessel which is implicated the most in the failed rescue operation concerning four U.S.American citizens on SY Quest, who were killed by the Somali pirates in the process of U.S. negotiations.
Observers feel - after now a second blotch involving this U.S.American warship was discovered - that this Commander and crew should be called home.
Kudos to the Government of the Seychelles and their mariners to secure this dangerous ship on the loose.
MV Esperanza was still drifting and uncontrolled on the Indian Ocean, our observers reported on 21 February 2011. From the position where it was spotted on 10 February 2010 in Latitude: 03 22.7S and Longitude 050 29.1 E, which is around 450Nm straight 90 degrees off the coastline of Mogadishu, Somalia, 630Nm off straight East of Malindi, Kenya, and approximately 300Nm off the Seychelles, the vessel drifted around 350nm further south-south-east through the archipelago of the Seychelles.
Merchant vessel Esperanza had apparently NO LIVING SOUL on board and neither crew or pirates were around. The vessel appeared abandoned and is slightly listing to the observers.
After we reported a warning from the Seychelles was sounded over ten days ago to shipping in the area concerning this vessel.
The warning was, however, not published widely by the navies, who obviously did nothing to solve the case.
Sources at a Maritime Rescue Centre stated now that they heard this "Esperanza" actually was said to be missing already since 2010, though neither flag nor other details were known to these centres.
Observers wondered why none of the naval conglomerates and maritime security operations in the area - except the Seychelles - had reported or followed up the case.
Efforts to contact the Indian owners of a Sierra-Leone flagged "Esperanza", a small 1,332 dwt oil products tanker, have so far been without success and "officially" it is said to be in the docks and listed as "In Casualty Or Repairing" in the ship register.
The ship was built within the Moru line of small tankers produced after a Japanese blueprint by the Kyokuyo Shipyard Corporation, which has some common basic construction features with numerous purse seiners built to satisfy Japan's voracious demand of tuna.
The ghost-vessel was first named Kiyo Maru No. 53 and then also at one point of time Arabian Victory. Her registered owner and manager is PARAMOUNT MERCHANDISE PVT LTD of Plot 95-96, Sector 44, Nerul, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.
Observers feared that the owner just wanted to sink the vessel to cash in on insurance or to scrap the ship without costs.
Vessel off the dock and on the loose?
During the last two weeks during which the drifter was now observed closer, the ship was floating in south-south-easterly direction.
The MV Esperanza made over five hundred nautical miles on that last ghost voyage. Even while passing Les Amirantes Islands unhindered none of the naval conglomerates except the Seychelles coastguard had paid any attention.
Though naval forces regularly blow in exercise manner tiny coastal fishing vessels out of the waters at the Somali coast for "the hazard they pose to shipping", despite that there is no "shipping", none of the many foreign warships in the zone had at least since now two weeks secured this drifting ghost-ship, which posed a grave danger.
The Seychelles Coast Guard also overcame fear expressed by some that it was a booby-trapped bait.
Local seamen report that the vessel was one of the fuel-paddlers in the region, who siphon petrol or diesel from passing larger tankers and sell it clandestinely along the coasts, and that they might have as well been involved in blockade-breaking deliveries, supplying the harbours of Southern Somalia held by Al-Shabaab fundamentalists.
Thanks to the Seychelles the stray Esperanza is back on the leach and the Indian government as well as the flag-state Sierra-Leone certainly will have to follow up with the Indian owner of the vessel for blunt violation of several international maritime laws.
Source: ECOTERRA and Facebook
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