Somali pirates free tanker for record ransom
Somali pirates released a Greek supertanker, the European Union Maritime Security Center and Athens-based ship owners Maran Tankers Management said Monday.
Various news reports claimed the pirates had received a record ransom of $9 million — $7 million in cash dropped on the deck of the vessel and a $2 million cash transfer, while other reports said the payoff was on the order of $5.5 million. A year ago ship owners are believed to have paid about $3 million to secure the release of the Saudi tanker Sirius Star.
Cmdr. John Harbour, spokesman for the European Union’s anti-piracy force, said a group of rival pirates had attacked the Greek-flagged Maran Centaurus just before the ransom was being delivered, prompting the pirates onboard the tanker to call for assistance from the anti-piracy force, according to the Canadian Press. Other news reports said two pirates were killed in the melee.
The Maran Centaurus, with a crew of 28, was hijacked Nov. 29 off Somalia, 600 miles northeast of the Seychelle Islands on its way from Saudi Arabia to the United States. It is now under naval escort to the Port of Durban, South Africa, the EU anti-piracy center said.