Sinhala  Tamil    Seperate    
Governtment of Sri Lanka

LTTE Engage in Act of Piracy – Against Jordanian Merchant Vessel MV FARAH III, Anchored Off the Coast of Mullaittivu due to Engine Failure

( Created date: 26-Dec-2006 )

Captain Ramaz Abdul Jabar and Bosun Mohamed Abdul Aziz Ahmed Alsiturman of the Jordanian merchant vessel MV FARAH 111 confirmed at a meeting with the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), in Colombo this morning, in the presence of Officials from the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) and the Sri Lanka Navy, that armed LTTE representatives had forcibly boarded the vessel after firing gun shots into the air around 0300 hours on the morning of 23 December 2006 and proceeded to force the weighing of the anchor, raid the ship and force the 25 member crew off the vessel, firing further gun shots.

The LTTE had first surrounded the ship with six small military type vessels, each vessel was fitted with three outer board motors and guns. They boarded the ship and attempted to explode the anchor cable. When they failed to do this they demanded that the anchor be pulled up and began forcibly removing all the communication equipment on the ship, thereby depriving the crew of any facility of further communications. They then ordered the crew to board the LTTE vessels.

The ship FARAH 111 carrying a cargo of 14,000 MT of rice from Kakinada in India was proceeding to Durban in South Africa, when it had developed engine defects and requested its local agent on 20/12/06 to arrange for the assistance of a Tug boat from Colombo. The vessel was first detected by the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) drifting close to the coast off Mullaittivu later on in the day. On 21/12/06 the vessel was advised to anchor once she reached a suitable depth for anchoring as she was in danger of being run –aground on the Mullaittuvu shoal in the prevailing rough sea conditions. The ship was safely anchored at 09 24 'N, 080 52' E (8.2 nautical miles NNE off Mullaittivu). She was in contact with the local shipping agent and the principals and was awaiting towing assistance that had been requested from Colombo.

The Captain reiterated that the ship and the crew had been safely anchored and were not in danger until the LTTE had arrived and forced them to remove the anchor and abandon the ship. This had caused the vessel to drift. The latest information received by the SLN indicate that the vessel ha s now drifted to position 09 19.2' N, 080 47.8' E (approximately 1600 meters from land) and run aground.

It is clear that the LTTE has engaged in a blatant act of piracy.

Farah 111 initial anchored position

Following is an agreed summary of conclusions derived from the meeting.

* The Ship had run into engine problems and was safely anchored at 09 24' N, 080 52' E (8.2 nautical miles NNE off Mullaittivu) on 21/12/06. The ship was in contact with the local shipping agent and the principals and was awaiting towing assistance that had been requested from Colombo

* Around 0300 hours on 23/12/06 the LTTE approached the ship in 5 or 6 “military type” vessels.

* They fired into the air initially and then forcibly boarded the Ship, at no time were they invited by the Captain or crew to board the ship.

* The LTTE did not ask the Captain and his crew either initially or at any point of time as to whether they were in distress or as to whether they needed assistance.

* The Captain activated a general alert and distress message/signal on the ship, indicating that an incident of piracy/armed attack was taking place.

* The message was received at 0348 hours at the Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre in Falmouth UK.

* The Captain also set off the alarm on the ship.

* The LTTE proceeded to forcibly remove all communication equipment in the vessel. By the removal of communication equipment from the vessel the LTTE, deprived the crew from communicating with their contacts and any other sources of assistance.

* Thereafter the LTTE ordered the crew to get into LTTE boats and the crew had to follow the orders. The LTTE fired a couple of rounds in the air to speed up the move.

* The boats were fitted with 3 X OBMs each. The boats took off at high speed causing the crew to suffer injuries and some members vomited.

* It was reiterated that the crew and the vessel were totally safe when the vessel was anchored and there was no danger until LTTE removed the anchor and caused the vessel to drift.

* The LTTE did not indicate to the Captain or crew at any point of time, that they were on a rescue mission nor did they indicate any other intention. They carried out their activities without the consent of the Captain and the crew.

* The question as to “what the LTTE was going to do with the cargo and the abandoned vessel” was raised by the Captain. The LTTE had not given any specific answer.

* The LTTE forcibly removed all the ships instruments and equipment such as computers/fax machines etc as well as some personal effects of the crew such as laptop computers, mobile phones etc, when they visited the ship a second time with the captain and 6 crew members later that day.

* The ship had a full load of rice, 14,000 Metric Tons at the time the Captain and crew were forced by the LTTE to abandon the ship.

* The ship had been anchored within the “Territorial Waters” of Sri Lanka.


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