Memoirs of eight months with Somali pirates

Published: 07/03/2011 05:00



VietNamNet Bridge – “While we were dropping an anchor, we saw a high-speed canoe approaching. Somali pirates holding machine-guns got close to the ship, overpowered the captain and other sailors,” Tran Van Tri, 22, who has just returned home after eight months seized by Somali pirates, recalled.

Sailor Tran Van Tri

Tri, from Quynh Long commune in the central province of Nghe An, became a fisherman after leaving junior secondary school. In September 2009, his parents borrowed money from a bank to cover labor exporting fees for him. Since then, Tri was recruited as a sailor of Tai Yuan 277, a tuna fishing boat of Taiwan.

In May 2010, while fishing tuna in the Indian Ocean, Tri’s vessel was seized by a group of Somali pirates.

“Several minutes later, another group of Somali men appeared with machine-guns. They forced all sailors to go to the board and searched through the boat to take all cash and assets.

The pirates told the captain to steer the ship to Somalia. The ship was ordered to land in a closed and wild sea, where many other fishing boats were detained.

“In Somalia, the pirated classified sailors into Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Indonesian, etc. and forced them to do different works. They beat anyone who opposed and threatened to kill them,” Tri recalled.

The pirates allowed the captain to get contact with the Taiwanese ship owner but they could not contact the owner. The pirates were very angry and they asked the captain to seek way to get contact with the owner to ask for ransom.

As they could not contact Taiwan, the pirated used the ship and sailors to rob other ships. Two months after the arrest, Somali pirates permitted sailors to call home for three minutes.

“I was crying on my bed when I heard a strange phone call. I had a feeling that this was my son’s call. We talked for three minutes but I cried for two minutes,” said Tri’s mother, Tran Thi Hue city.

On January 20 2011, after robbing a big fishing ship in the Indian Ocean, the pirates asked the captain to steer the ship to its dock. While the ship was running, the chief mechanic told the pirates that the ship was out of fuel. Five pirates searched the ship but they didn’t see any oil can left. They thought that the ship was out of oil so they released the ship and all sailors.

“When the pirates left the big ship that they had just robbed, we embraced each other for happiness. All of us cried because they were released by the pirates unconditionally,” Tri said.

After a while, all sailor were very worried because the ship was out of fuel but the Chinese chief mechanic laughed and told sailors that there were over ten tons of oil hidden in the ship.

“We hurriedly supplied fuel for the ship and run to Sri Lanka,” Tri continued.

The ship landed in Sri Lanka 12 days later. The captain got contact with the Taiwanese Consulate in Sri Lanka. Sailors called home and they were assisted with their journey home.

On March 3, Tri and two other Vietnamese sailors from Ha Tinh and Kon Tum provinces arrived home safely.

Tri’s father, Tran Van Uon, said: “I heard that my son was captured by pirates. I though that he would not return but I still had to encourage my wife and my mother. We prayed for him everyday and he has returned”.

Nearly 1000 young people in Tri’s commune – Quynh Long – work as sailors on foreign fishing ships.

Tri said that Somali pirates don’t kill or maltreat Vietnamese hostages because they know that Vietnamese sailors are very poor. He said that hostages were also supplied with rice and water.

Source: VNE

Provide by Vietnam Travel

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