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Swedish tanker hit by pirate attack

Published: 01 Aug 2011 07:59 GMT+02:00
Updated: 01 Aug 2011 07:59 GMT+02:00

A Swedish tanker vessel fell victim to a pirate attack off the coast of Benin in west Africa.

While the crew escaped unhurt, the attack raises once again the question of whether Swedish ships should be able to arm themselves in the battle against pirates.

"Had you asked me a year ago I would have been a staunch opponent against having armed guards, but today I am much more hesitant," said Jonas Engström, security manager at shipping firm Wisby Ship Management, to news agency TT.

Shortly after 3am on Sunday morning, he received a call from the crew of the tanker Gotland Sofia.

Around ten pirates had boarded the ship while the crew unloaded the cargo of oil to an adjacent vessel, 70 kilometres outside the port of Cotonou in Benin.

The crew, consisting of four Swedes, 18 Filipinos and a Ukrainian, proceeded to lock themselves in. The pirates tried to get into where the crew had blockaded themselves, but fled when units from Benin's navy fleet approached.

"In this case, nothing happened, but a lot of people become anxious. It is a situation that may involve substantial risks."

The government is current investigating the question of whether Swedish shipping companies should be allowed to have armed guards on board their ships. But pending the outcome of the investigation, many companies have already begun to employ guards.

"We will certainly look at it now," Jonas Engström said.

TT/The Local/pvs (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:04 August 1, 2011 by KungsholmenGuy
Rather than running around the forests of Sweden and shooting at mosquitos during training excersizes, why are soldiers from Sweden's army not already deployed on Swedish ships? The army exists to protect Sweden's interests - both the safety of her people and her financial interests. Not clear to me why armed escorts to Swedish merchants are not already being supplied for a nominal fee. Is the Swedish government worried that this would constitute a declaration of war against Somalia?
11:33 August 1, 2011 by J Jack
As a waterman I have often wondered why there is not a boycot of pirates using nuclear contaminated decoy ships from Russia and running them aground at prime pirate access points.
12:04 August 1, 2011 by johnny1939
I thought Wallenius already did employ armed guards.
15:12 August 1, 2011 by millionmileman
They are debating if Swedish shipping should be allowed to arm themselves from Somali Pirates!

Excuse me, but either way this and SAAB's jobs situation with the Swedish Government indecisions with Vladimir Antonov are amounting to total incompetence and ineptitude. I suppose nothing is more pressing right now than Snus!
17:18 August 1, 2011 by Svensksmith
Please people, a little compassion. Don't call them pirates, call them law disabled.
20:01 August 1, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
I am against the selling of arms to Swedish tankers. They should be armed with Swedish meatballs to conquer the pirates good will. After the meatballs, some Absolute vodka and then the chat with some snus. As Svenskmith just wrote, they are not pirates, they are law disabled.

Now, if the government wants to go a step further, they could be hired to attack Gaddafi's forces at sea.
20:19 August 1, 2011 by mkvgtired
"Had you asked me a year ago I would have been a staunch opponent against having armed guards, but today I am much more hesitant,"

I guess its ok when French, German, and American ships are attacked. This seemed to be relatively foreseeable.

It seems like armed resistance worked pretty well when the SEALs taught the pirates that there may be some risk to taking people hostage at gun point. I remember how many people were against this. I would say, however, if you do not want to get shot in the head, dont take people hostage at gunpoint. Seems to be a pretty simple cause and effect relationship.
06:45 August 2, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
Pirates were commissioned by Bofors so that the government arms the tankers.
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