Pirate-held tanker belongs to German company

Other News Materials 29 January 2009 19:22 (UTC +04:00)

The Longchamp, the tanker seized Thursday by Somali pirates, belongs to MPC Steamship, a branch of a German investment group, a spokesman for the company in Hamburg said, dpa reported.

Muenchmeyer Petersen Capital AG of Hamburg owns 25 per cent of MPC Steamship and other funding comes from its investment clients. Investing in ships is popular among rich Germans because of tax rebates.

Being a finance company, MPC Steamship does not directly operate the ship, but contracts that task out to the Bernhard Schulte ship management company, a longtime Hamburg shipping operator.

Currently the ship is chartered to yet another company, Bridge Marine, which is registered in the Liberian capital Monrovia.

The vessel is not registered in Germany, but flies a flag of convenience, with its registered home port in the Bahamas.

The MPC spokesman said ship had passed through the Suez Canal on its way to Asia with a cargo of liquefied petroleum gas.

It had waited for a day especially to join a convoy under Indian naval protection as it passed through pirate-infested waters. The Indians had unsuccessfully tried to prevent the vessel being hijacked.

He said the tanker had been steered away from the convoy and was bound for the Somali coast.