Ship seized off Somalia not Greek, says Athens

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Oct 11 2008 10:35 PM | Updated as of Oct 12 2008 06:35 AM

ATHENS - Authorities in Athens denied Saturday that a ship reported to have been seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia had any connection with Greece.

Earlier a piracy surveillance centre in Malaysia had reported that Somali pirates had taken over a Greek tanker and separately attacked a ship chartered by the World Food Programme.

The International Maritime Bureau's (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre in Kuala Lumpur, said that pirates boarded a Greek chemical tanker flying the Panamanian flag Friday at 1330 GMT.

But the Greek merchant marine ministry said that it had no knowledge of any recent act of piracy against a vessel linked to Greek interests or carrying Greek nationals.

The ministry said it had been told orally Friday by a company based in the Marshall Islands that a Panamanian-flagged ship, carrying 17 Georgians and three Spaniards, called the Axion or Action, had been boarded by pirates in the Gulf of Aden.

"This ship is not linked to Greek interests, we are not concerned with it," said a spokesman for the ministry's operations center.

Given how complicated arrangements in the world of merchant shipping could be "we cannot completely rule out Greek involvement in the company that owns the ship, but for us it is not the case of a Greek vessel," the spokesman said. Three ships belonging to Greek ship-owners were seized by pirates off Somalia in two weeks at the end of last month.

The IMB says 69 ships have been attacked in the area since January. Greece, home to the world's largest merchant shipping fleet, is considering sending a frigate to the region to take part in international patrols.