Piracy in European Waters - A Novelty? Feb 2012

Romanian correspondent warns of incidents of piracy in the Danube.

One would assume that no such thing will be happening in European waters. And one would be wrong.

It seems that few owners of small river vessels, tugs and barges’ owners have felt the direct impact of the continuing financial crisis as their vessels are being subjected to attacks whilst passing a stretch of the Danube. The area most commented upon being between the 240 and 350 kilometer mark of the Danube’s Romanian waters. One could call this petty thieving as “pirates” walk away with personal belongings, ropes, power cables and small amounts of cargo (grains for example). That said, the attackers were reported armed with axes and knives, and with a number of people outweighing the number of crew, these are sufficient to cause substantial fear and material loss that may put the vessel in danger.

Ukrainian Danube shipping company, which frequents the route as normally trading in this area, has voiced complaints and reportedly pressed Ukrainian government to engage their Romanian counterparts in a solution to the problem. Recent reports cite the tug Perm being attacked on Saturday, 4th and Kapitan Babkin on Monday, 7th off Smedrevo.

It would appear logical that the wide coverage of Somali pirate attacks in the media, has inspired groups of trouble makers to go after the small ships passing this strip. Local police seem to do nothing about it, perhaps on account of not enough pressure from the local ship-owners community which is too small for sufficient lobbying, or not a big enough international scandal to make them pay attention.

We could see how the relatively shallow but navigable Danube waters can provide the right “environment” for attacks at any point in the river. There had been quite a few more serious instances in the past with occurring in the Bulgarian and Serbian territorial waters as well, and, until better days, members with smaller ships that operate on that route will be well advised to be on the watch-out.

8 February 2012

Antonios Kalmoukis
for Kalimbassieris Maritime SRL
Tel: (+40) 241 693750
Fax: (+40) 241 693700
Mob:  (+40) 723 313620
Email:   constantza@kalimbassieris.com, a.kalmoukis@kalimbassieris.com