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January 10, 2009

MV Sirius Star oil tanker released by pirates

MV Sirius Star oil tanker released by pirates

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

The ransom money is delivered by a parachute dropped by a small aircraft.

Somali pirates have released the MV Sirius Star, the biggest ship ever hijacked, after a ransom payment was made. Five pirates drowned while leaving the 330 metre oil tanker.

The vessel was hijacked 500 miles from the Kenyan coast on November 15 with two million barrels of crude oil, worth $100 million. It was then anchored off the coast of Somalia at Haradhere, a coastal town used by pirates.

It was released yesterday after a ransom of $3 million was paid by owner Saudi Aramco, significantly less than the $25 million originally demanded. After the money was parachuted in the pirates left the vessel, with all 25 crew unharmed. However, one pirate boat carrying eight pirates and some of the money capsized on its way to shore due to rough weather, and five of the occupants drowned.

The vessel at anchor a few days after it was hijacked

The Sirius Star, which had been taking oil from Saudi Arabia to the United States, headed to Kenya after release. It anchored in deep waters, and a smaller boat took the crew to shore at Mombasa.

The pirate faction involved, one of at least five in the Gulf of Aden, is called the Central Regional Coastguard (CRC). The CRC is also holding Ukranian arms ship MV Faina, with a cargo of 33 T-72 tanks, two cargo ships from Turkey and tugs from Indonesia and Nigeria. Negotiations for the release of all these ships are said to be near to completion.

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Also released Friday was the Hong Kong-registered MV Delight, an Iranian-chartered vessel carrying 36,000 tons of wheat and a crew of 25. It is unclear if any ransom was paid for the ship, seized in November. The crew are in good health and the cargo ship is headed to a port in Iran.

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November 22, 2008

Somali pirates now hold 134 Filipino seafarers hostage

Somali pirates now hold 134 Filipino seafarers hostage

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

The number of abducted Filipino seafarers in Somali waters rose to 134 with the seizure of the MV Delight on November 18. The seven Filipino seafarers are members of a 25 multi-national crew aboard the Hong Kong registered Iranian ship, whose crew also includes seven Indians, two Pakistanis and two Ghanaians. None of the crew members are reported to be harmed.

The 134 Filipinos currently held come from a total of eight hijacked ships, including 19 from the high profile capture of the Sirius Star; with the single largest contingent being the 26 man crew of the MV Centauri taken on the 17th of September. The total would be higher but for 76 Filipino crew have been released by the Somali pirates since the April of this year.

The large number of abducted Filipinos reflects the large Filipino seafaring community, some 230,000 of all ranks in 2004, who command wages only a third of that of Western seamen.



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Militants, pirates may fight over Saudi oil tanker

Militants, pirates may fight over Saudi oil tanker

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Sirius Star

Islamic militants have vowed to fight pirates holding the Saudi Arabian oil tanker Sirius Star off the Somalian coast. The militants are angered over the seizure of a ‘Muslim’ ship.

The tanker is anchored near Haradheere, a town controlled by the Islamists. The Sirius Star, owned by Saudi state firm Vela International Marine, has a crew of 25 from the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Croatia, Poland, and Britain. A ransom of $25 million is being sought, a quarter of the value of the vessel’s cargo of oil.

“Hijacking a Muslim ship is a major crime,” said militant spokesman Sheikh Abdi Rihin Isse Adow. “We strongly oppose piracy actions in our waters.” Spokesman Abdirahim Isse Adow said: “We have arranged our fighters. The first step is to cut off pirates inland from those on the Saudi ship by restricting their supplies and cutting their communications.”

They could have a fight on their hands, as the pirates have also been bringing in fighters in preparation for possible military attacks from various foreign navies that have arrived in the area to combat the growing threat from pirates. “I hope the owner of the tanker is wise enough and won’t allow any military option because that would be disastrous for everybody. We are here to defend the tanker if attacked,” said pirate Abdiyare Moalim.

91 ships have been attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Arden since the year began, but the Sirius Star is both the largest and furthest from shore to be taken, captured some 420 nautical miles (833 kilometers) from Somalia’s coast. Shipping companies have rerouted around the area.

The news is not entirely bad, however, as a Greek tanker full of refined oil was released today, complete with cargo intact and crew of 19 unharmed. The MV Genius, now headed out of the area, was captured September 26, the same day as the MV Faina was taken. The Faina remains held with a cargo of military hardware including tanks.



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November 20, 2008

Negotiations for hijacked Saudi oil tanker begin

Negotiations for hijacked Saudi oil tanker begin

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

MV Sirius Star off the coast of Somalia on November 19.

Vela International Marine, the Saudi Arabian company that owns the MV Sirius Star oil tanker which was captured by pirates on November 15, has begun negotiations with the Somali pirates.

The Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal said that talks had begun, but he did not say whether a ransom would be paid. Vela International Marine, which is owned by state-owned Saudi Aramco, would only say it is “working toward [the crew’s] safe and speedy return.”

“We do not like to negotiate with pirates, terrorists or hijackers,” said Saud al Faisal in Rome, after speaking with Franco Frattini, the Foreign Minister of Italy.

Dubai-based television network Al Jazeera broadcast an audiotape of a man who said he was with the pirates. He identified himself as Farah Abd Jameh.

“Negotiators are located on board the ship and on land. Once they have agreed on the ransom, it will be taken in cash to the oil tanker. We assure the safety of the ship that carries the ransom. We will mechanically count the money and we have machines that can detect fake money,” the man said. He did not mention any specific amounts for the ransom.

Cquote1.svg We do not like to negotiate with pirates, terrorists or hijackers. Cquote2.svg

—Saud al Faisal, Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia

The British Foreign Office released a statement Wednesday which identified two of the crew as chief engineer Peter French and second officer James Grady. The rest of the 25-man crew are from Croatia (1), Poland (2), Philippines (19) and Saudi Arabia (1). They are all reported to be safe.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband said that the Royal Navy was coordinating a European response.

Dominique Montecer, the director of operations at GEOS Group, a corporate risk management firm, cast doubt on a military response.

“Everything is possible but it would take extraordinary means and organization, and the risk of an ecological disaster is very high. They are sitting on a bomb,” Montecer said.

The Gulf of Aden

“It’s certainly a very complex environment to work in — a Liberian-flagged vessel, owned by a Saudi company, in Somali waters, with so many different nationalities on board,” said Lt. Nate Christensen of the United States Navy when asked about the possibility of taking back the Sirius Star by force.

“Shipping companies are already making decisions not to go through the Gulf of Aden, and making the decision to take the much longer route around the south of Africa,” said Peter Hinchcliffe, marine director of the International Chamber of Shipping. “And with the increase in intensity of attacks, that is something that is going to be much more frequent. It’s adding let’s say an average of two weeks to the passage time.”

Since the capture of the Sirius Star, pirates in the Gulf of Aden have taken at least three other ships. These include a Chinese ship carrying wheat, a Greek bulk carrier, and a Thai fishing vessel.

Pirates stand guard aboard the MV Faina on October 19.

The International Maritime Bureau reports that Somali pirates currently hold 14 ships along with an estimated 250 crew members. Since January, there have been over 30 hijackings in the area, while another 60 ships have been attacked.

Among the ships still held is the Ukrainian cargo ship MV Faina, which has a cargo of 33 Russian T-72 battle tanks, as well as other weapons. The Faina was hijacked on September 25.

Meanwhile, the Indian Navy has reported that it encountered and destroyed what it called a pirate “mother ship” on Tuesday. India dispatched frigate INS Tabar last month to protect its merchant shipping in the Gulf of Aden. The pirate vessel reportedly threatened the Indian frigate after it was hailed.

Several NATO members, as well as Russia, India and Malaysia have all sent warships to the region to protect merchant shipping in the area. The Combined Task Force 150, formed as a multinational coalition in the War on Terrorism, was restructured in 2006 to aid in anti-piracy efforts.



Related news

  • “Pirates capture Saudi oil tanker” — Wikinews, November 17, 2008

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Wikipedia
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List of ships attacked by Somali pirates
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November 17, 2008

Pirates capture Saudi oil tanker

Pirates capture Saudi oil tanker – Wikinews, the free news source

Pirates capture Saudi oil tanker

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Monday, November 17, 2008

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Pirates have seized control of the Sirius Star, a Saudi-owned oil tanker off the coast of Kenya and are steering her towards Somalia, reports the US Navy. The ship was captured roughly 830 kilometers south-east of Mombasa and is reportedly heading towards the Somali port of Eyl.

AbQaig, an oil tanker of similar capacity as the Sirius Star.

The oil tanker was carrying over 2 million barrels of oil at the time of her capture, and was on her way to the United States via Cape Town. Reuters claimed that news of the attack raised crude oil prices around the world.

Vela International Marine, the ship’s owner, has said the Sirius Star is fully loaded. The oil could be worth up to US$100 million. The US Navy reports that all 25 crew from the United Kingdom, Croatia, the Philippines, Poland, and Saudi Arabia are ‘safe’.

The area off the East coast of Africa has seen a significant amount of piracy. In 2007, one-third of the world’s piracy incidents occurred in this region.

Hijacking off the coast of Somalia has become increasingly common over the last decade. Over the last year multiple countries have expressed concern or committed their navies to dealing with Somali pirates. Most recently, South Korea has announced intentions to send one of its destroyers after five South Koreans were kidnapped in a Japanese cargo ship hijacking.

The Sirius Star is the largest ship captured by pirates in the area to date. This also sets a record for the farthest from the shore that pirates have struck.



Related news

  • “Somalian pirates capture military ship, weapons, tanks” — Wikinews, September 26 ,2008
  • “Somali pirates seize Greek freighter, 25 crew in the Gulf of Aden” — Wikinews, September 18, 2008

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MV Sirius Star
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List of ships attacked by Somali pirates
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