Poland condemns the detention by Hutu rebels of a United Arab Emirates ship in the Red Sea in January this year, the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed on Thursday. The ministry called on the rebels to release the ship and its crew. There is much to suggest that Poland’s ministry (as well as many media in Poland and worldwide) is misnaming the ship.
– Poland condemns the detention of a cargo ship belonging to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that happened near the port of Al-Hudajda in early January this year. We call for the immediate release of the vessel and its crew,” – the statement published on the Foreign Ministry’s website said on Thursday.
However, there are doubts as to the identity of the vessel. The ministry has stated that it is the UAE vessel Rawabi. Most reports from news agencies and media worldwide refer to the Rawabi. This name is used even in publications with a photo of the ship named Rwabee on its side.
There is no UAE Rawabi vessel on international registers. However, there are many vessels with two-part names containing “Rawabi” and a number. Almost all of these are associated with the shipowner Rawabi Holdings Co Ltd of Saudi Arabia and the operator Vallianz Offshore Marine Pte of Singapore.
Shortly after the ship had been hijacked, the photographs showed just a deck with military-looking vehicles instead of a complete view of the vessel. That sight could suggest an offshore service vessel, which would be consistent with the type of vessels dominating the fleet of the shipowner Rawabi.
However, the pictures and information published later – in recent days – already refer to another ship – named Rwabee (IMO No 9834351; GT 1666 t). Its appearance is consistent with earlier photos (published shortly after the hijacking). It is a small ro-ro vessel without holds (with cargo carried only on deck), suitable for shallow water operations and stranding (with a ramp laid down onto the beach).
This vessel, flying the UAE flag, belongs to the UAE shipowner Khalid Faraj Marine Shipping, and its operator and managing company is Liwa Marine Services LLC, also from the UAE. And this vessel (Rwabee, not Rawabi) is likely the one at issue in the Hutu rebel hijacking case.
– Acts of piracy infringe on the freedom of navigation, pose a threat to the safety of ships and their crews, and are a serious violation of international law – the Polish Foreign Ministry stressed in its statement.
The Saudi-led coalition reported the hijacking of the United Arab Emirates-flagged ship Rawabi in the Red Sea by Yemeni Hutu rebels. It supports the Yemeni government in its fight against the Hutus. The incident occurred on the night of 2/3 January in Yemen’s territorial waters, near the port of Al-Hudayda in the west of the country.
The vessel was sailing from the Yemeni island of Socotra to the Saudi port of Jazan and was transporting medical equipment. The Saudi Arabia-led coalition described the incident as an “act of piracy”.
The Hutus claimed responsibility for the seizure of the vessel. They pointed out that it had “military equipment” on board and that its seizure was a “successful action against the aggressors”. Furthermore, the ship had entered Yemeni waters without permission and was engaged in “hostile activities”.
The UAE government reported 11 crew members on board, who were citizens of five different countries (including seven Indians).
The ship’s hijacking was condemned, among others, by the US and British ambassadors to the UN. Authorities have demanded the immediate release of the kidnapped crew members, including India and Pakistan.
In the pictures: images from material published on YouTube (including footage distributed by the Hutu rebels after the ship had been seized).