Baffled Somali pirates phoned a Hamburg shipping company when the crew of German container ship Magellan Star went into hiding to foil the hijackers, it was reported Friday.
After US marines stormed the ship and captured nine Somali pirates Thursday, the crew re-emerged safe from their hiding place.
The Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper said the Dr. Peters shipping company offices received a call soon after the ship was captured. A man speaking broken English demanded fiercely: ‘Where is the crew here? Why is the engine not working?’
It is now standard ‘passive-defence’ practice off the Somali coast when ships are attacked to shut down all machinery and hide the crew in a fortified space, city shipping operators say.
A placard on the bridge of the Magellan Star displays the owners’ phone number in case of emergency. The pirates rang the number.
A quick-witted staffer at the shipping company lied to the pirates. ‘They all went on holiday. And the engine is broken down.’
The ship will need repairs after the pirates smashed equipment and ripped out doors in their vain effort to capture the crew, who spent over 20 hours in a cramped secure area waiting to be rescued.
It is not yet clear if, or where, the suspected pirates will stand trial. Hamburg prosecutors said they were studying the file.