News Blogmaritime piracy

A Chinese-Vietnamese crew released. Taiwan and China talk to each other, via Brussels

(credit: Eunavfor)

(BRUSSELS2) Somali pirates on Wednesday (July 18) freed the crew of the Taiwanese fishing trawler, the FV Shiuh Fu #1, captured on Christmas Day 2010 near the Malagasy coast. 26 people on board (13 Chinese, 1 Taiwanese and 12 Vietnamese) were recovered safely by a Chinese warship... which headed for Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania), where plenipotentiaries from the three countries concerned were to collect their nationals.

A ransom was indeed paid according to our information, “dropped” by air (as is customary), on July 17. In the amount of $3 million, its payment would have caused, according to Somalia Report, a divorce between the pirates, between those who guarded the prisoners (from the Ilaalo group commanded by Heeryo) and the other participants in the piracy operation, notably the investors.

A recovery operation carried out jointly by Chinese and Europeans

The hostage recovery operation was carried out discreetly with the support of the Europeans. The crew had, in fact, been transferred from the ship to an undisclosed location near Hobyo, one of the main pirate “ports”. And the ship had been abandoned and made unfit for service (it was used occasionally as a mother ship according to some versions). The difficulty of the operation therefore consisted of being able to recover, quickly and without damage, a crew weakened by more than 18 months of detention.

Dialogue via EUNAVFOR HQ

The Taiwan delegation in Brussels had requested assistance from the Europeans. However, on the so-called day of liberation, the ship closest to the anti-pirate coalitions happened to be a Chinese ship, ... from mainland China. The nearest EUNAVFOR ship is – according to a European officer – approximately 48 hours away. It was the crisis management structures in Brussels that served as intermediaries. Contacts were therefore made between Northwood's OHQ – commanding the European fleet – and the admiral commanding the Chinese fleet. He then promised to send his ship to the area. The detection of the skiffs in which the hostages were located could, if necessary, be ensured by a German P3 Orion patrol and reconnaissance aircraft. But ultimately, the Chinese ship was able to safely recover all the sailors, safe and sound...

Clearly at sea, political barriers are disappearing. And the pirates have achieved a new “miracle”: bringing Taiwan and mainland China into dialogue via Brussels!


Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).