Ships 2

Iran Deyanat

Ships 3

Deadly Cargo?

Did Somalia Pirates Pay The Ultimate Price After Seizing Iranian Ship?

By James Donahue

There is a story out that the daring pirates of Somalia got into serious trouble in the fall of 2008 after they hijacked the Iran Deyanat, an Iranian merchant ship then began dying of a mysterious illness.

It is a wild story that is somewhat hard to believe since only the pirates got sick and the 25 members of the ship’s crew remained perfectly healthy. Yet the web rumor mill is laced with copies of this story making it appear factual.

As the story is told, the pirates captured the ship on Aug. 21, 2008, as it was sailing from Nanjing China to Rotterdam with a cargo of iron ore and “industrial products.” The pirates began suffering from skin burns, hair loss, severe illness and some of them reportedly died after attempting to force open some of the shipping containers on the vessel.

The story gets stranger. One version claimed that the United States and France had naval ships stationed off Eyl, Somalia, where the Iran Deyanat was being held while the pirates waited for the Iranian owners to cough up a $2 million ransom. Another said the United States offered to pay a $7 million bribe to the pirates to be given the opportunity to search the vessel.

There was a general conclusion that the ship was laden with nuclear material, but this was denied by everyone involved. Another belief was that the ship was carrying weapons and dangerous chemicals to Eritrea for use by Islamist rebels.

The wildest story was that the hijacked ship was a “dirty bomb” meant for delivery to Israel on Yom Kippur.

This was all supposedly going on in late 2008 while Americans were preoccupied with presidential politics and paying little attention to affairs in the rest of the world.

So what happened to the Iran Deyanat, and what is the rest of this story?  It appears that the vessel was, indeed, one of the many victims of the active Somalia pirates. After Iran paid a ransom of $2.5 million, the ship left Somalia on Oct. 10 and went on to Rotterdam to deliver 42,500 tons of iron ore and industrial products.

The Dutch, having heard all the rumors, insisted on a careful inspection of the ship. They reported nothing wrong. It was just another busy cargo vessel delivering goods to a busy industrial customer.

The charter company that managed the delivery of the cargo, Hinrichs of Germany, said the ship was hijacked, but no pirates fell ill during the time the ship was being held. It was all a fabricated story, perhaps designed to make the Iranians appear more dangerous to the world than the truth allows.