Pirates release tanker after ransom drop
Somali pirates reportedly released the Saudi-owned oil tanker Sirius Star Friday after a ransom of $3 million was paid.
The U.S. Navy ( posted photographs of a small plane apparently dropping the ransom by parachute to the tanker.
The ship is owned by Vela, the shipping arm of Saudi Aramco, and was carrying a full load of about 2 million barrels of oil when it was attacked 450 miles off the coast of Africa Nov. 15. It was the biggest tanker ever to be hijacked. Last year, more than 100 ships were hijacked in the Gulf of Aden and other waters around Somalia.
|The International Chamber of Commerce and the International Marine Bureau provide an interactive map showing all the piracy and armed robbery incidents reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Center during 2008. The live version of the map is available here|
Ongoing AmericanShipper.com Gulf of Aden coverage
The crew of 25 Croatian, British, Philippine, Polish and Saudi Arabian merchant mariners have been held hostage since the attack. It is expected that the ship will get underway from its current location within the next 24 hours.
“While the potential release of the Sirius Star is undoubtedly excellent news, we must not forget that nearly 300 other merchant mariners are still being held captive. The men who attacked the ship and held the crew hostage are armed criminals and consequently, we must remain steadfast in our efforts to address the international problem of piracy,” said Commodore Tim Lowe, deputy commander of a combined task force trying to stop the pirates.
Creation of the Bahrain-based task force was announced Thursday. It will conduct counter-piracy operations in and around the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. Naval ships and assets from more than 20 nations are involved.