Mystery surrounds identity of rescued Tanzanian ship



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Feb 11, 2007


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By ABDULWAKIL SAIBOKO, 24th February 2010 @ 18:04
Daily News

MYSTERY still surrounds identity of a Tanzanian ship saved from pirates by the US Navy in the Gulf of Aden earlier this week.

The Deputy Minister for Defence and National Service, Dr Emmanuel Nchimbi, told the 'Daily News' yesterday the government has not received official communication on the matter, while SUMATRA officials could not trace the registration of the ship in its records.

"We are still investigating but the navy is now working on the news and we want to get to know the details of the vessel in question and perhaps get to know where it came from and its destination," he said.

The US Embassy said in a statement on Tuesday that the USS Farragut, a United States warship, deterred an attack by suspected Somali pirates on a Tanzania-flagged ship, MV Barakaale 1, on February 21.

However, the deputy minister fell short of saying if the issue is linked to the US and UK governments request to Tanzania to set up a special court to try pirates nabbed in the Indian Ocean.

About a week ago, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Mr Bernard Membe, rejected a plea to set up the special court in Tanzania, saying that the government needed to study the proposal and weigh out threats by pirates.

The Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA) which is responsible for all locally registered marine vessels said that they were not aware of the identity of the ship.

"We have just learnt of the issue in the media. We are also not sure of the registration of the ship", said Sumatra's Public Affairs Manager, David Mziray when asked for comments.

The Zanzibar Ships Registrar, Mr Abdallah Mohammed, said that he was not sure over the existence of the vessel and that he was yet to see it in the list.

Mr Mohammed noted that his office has registered several ships that travel to several destinations especially to Asia but he was not sure that MV Barakaale 1 is one of them.

An official from the American Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Dr Elya Levin, could not say whether or not the issue was communicated to the government first before issuing the press statement.

He insisted that any clarification on the issue would be made in writing.

On Tuesday, US military sources based in Bahrain, UAE, said that the MV Barakaale 1 signalled for help from the international anti-pirate task force after pirates tried to board the vessel from a skiff.

Information had it that in response to a distress call from the Barakaale's Master, an SH-60B Seahawk helicopter from the USS Farragut disrupted two attempts to attack the Tanzanian vessel.

The embassy statement further explained that the American destroyer USS Farragut dispatched a helicopter that chased the pirate skiff, firing warning shots across its bow that brought it to a halt.

Military sources further said that sailors from the USS Farragut then boarded the pirate vessel and detained all eight men on board.


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