Hijacked Saudi Tanker Heads Towards Somali Port

November 18, 2008

(ChattahBox) — The Saudi-owned tanker, Sirius Star, is one of the largest oil tankers seized till date. It was somehow hijacked off the coast of Kenya and is now reported to head towards a Somali port. The crude oil tanker is flagged in Liberia and is owned by Saudi Arabian based company, Saudi Armaco.

The tanker is carrying 2 million barrels of crude oil worth more than $100 million and a crew of 25 members. The crew includes British, Croatian, Polish, Filipino and Saudi nationals. The 318,000 ton tanker is one of the largest ships to be hijacked till date by the pirates around Somalia. The tanker is nearly three times the size of any aircraft carrier.

“What we’ve seen typically in the past, the vessel will be held in anchorage off the coast in a pirate stronghold, for want of a better word,” Christensen said. Ship’s operating company reports that all the crew members of the ship are “remaining safe.”

Admiral Michael Mullen, the US’ top military officer in the region said he was “stunned” by the reach of the Somali pirates. The new quest by the Somali pirates make the vital trading routes unsafe and clearly indicate that the international patrols nearer the coast and the Gulf of Aden are proving to be unsuccessful in protecting these routes.

According to the Head of Piracy Reporting Centre at the International Maritime Bureau based in Kualalampur, Malaysia, 88 ships have been attacked in the Gulf of Aden alone this year. 14 hijacked ships still remain in Gulf with heavily armed hijackers on board. The crew, cargo and the vessels remain in the custody of pirates for the want of ransom.

“They’re still at sea and still negotiating,” he said, noting that as ransom payoffs have risen, pirates have raised their demands. “They know the going rate.” Earlier the ransom rate was tens or hundreds of thousand of dollars but now the payments range from $500,000 to $2 million. According to the Somali officials, the pirates are set to reach a record $50 million in 2008 alone.


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