Kabir Group explores ways to supply food to hijacked ship

Hijacked ship MV AbdullahIndian Navy

The Bangladeshi-flagged ship which is now under the control of Somalian pirates in the Indian Ocean has encountered a deteriorating crisis of food and water for its 23 crews.

Its owner, Kabir Group, said there is a growing demand for food and fresh water as the number of people on board has risen due to the inclusion of pirates. They will talk to the pirates and send food items through a third party, if necessary.

A sea-going vessel generally have frozen fishes, meat, vegetables, fruits, rice, pulses, and biscuits in stock.

Seeking anonymity, a crew of a commercial ship told Prothom Alo that the ships usually stock food items for one or two weeks extra, alongside for the period typically required to reach the destination port. The reserve of dry foods usually becomes higher due to the fear of any unexpected delay in the sea.

Also, the ships have reserves of freshwater – ranging from 3 to 5 tonnes – for cooking, bathing, and drinking, as there is no scope to use the sea water in daily life due to its extreme salinity. When a ship runs out of fresh water, it refills its reserve through tugboats.

MV Abdullah had a food stock of 25 days during the piracy attack on Tuesday, and the stock was supposed to be enough for the crews for the next 20-21 days. However, the pirates are also consuming the essentials, exacerbating the situation.

Asked about the issue, Mizanul Islam, media advisor of Kabir Group, said, “When the food reserves decrease, the pirates make arrangements for themselves as well as the crews on the ship. However, we have preparations so that the food crisis does not intensify.”

He further said they are waiting to establish communications with the pirates and will discuss the food crisis once they respond. Even, they have a plan to supply food and freshwater to the ship through a third party.

In this regard, Shakhawat Hossain, general secretary of Bangladesh Merchant Marine Officers' Association, said they reported the issue to the International Transport Federation on the day of hijacking. But the international organisations do not have any arrangements to supply food and freshwater along the Somalian coast.

He described the dwindling reserves of freshwater as the main concern and underscored the need for water rationing during the hostage period. “It is tough to supply water through tug boats along the Somalian coast. We are trying to find alternatives."